Articles Posted in Infections

“To know that this happens is our country, that’s unacceptable.” 

-Sue Sheridan, patient safety advocate, in To Err Is Human

The medical malpractice attorneys of Levin & Perconti recently watched To Err Is Human, a newly released documentary showing the frequency and impact of medical errors upon American families. To see the facts relating to the frequency and severity of medical errors combined with the heart wrenching story of a family forever changed by these mistakes has left a lasting impression on all of us.

The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit group dedicated to hospital safety, has released their biannual Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report, showing an overall improvement in Illinois hospitals since the spring. According to Leapfrog, the survey measures hospital patient safety by the number of “errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.” Participation by hospitals is optional and this fall, 110 Illinois hospitals agreed to take part. According to the data collected, Leapfrog rated Illinois hospitals as #13 overall, an improvement from #15 this past spring.

In a time where the increasing problem of medical errors is finally being given the platform it deserves, the survey is more relevant now than ever. The Leapfrog Group, citing an often quoted 2016 Johns Hopkins study, notes that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. Patient safety and healthcare provider accountability is essential for all hospitals and healthcare organizations. Below is our analysis of the Fall 2018 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report for participating Illinois hospitals.

Illinois & Metro Chicago Hospital Results

Ratings from the annual Hospital Safety Grade Report from Leapfrog Group are now available and 15 Illinois hospitals have lost their ‘A’ rating since last year. This year, Illinois has 30 hospitals who received an A, down from 45 just last year. The Hospital Safety Grade Report “scores hospitals on how safe they keep their patients from errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.” According to the Leapfrog Group, the focus is to bring patient safety information to the public and reduce the number of hospital mistakes and injuries, incidents that are responsible for 440,000 deaths each year.

Data is collected from hospital surveys, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and secondary sources, including the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey. In all, 27 different patient safety measures are evaluated, the data is weighted and then each hospital is given a rating (A-F). It is important to note that free standing pediatric hospitals, long term care facilities, and specialty centers (such as cancer treatment hospitals) are not included in Leapfrog’s annual Hospital Safety Grade Report.

Of the 27 measures, 12 related to Process and Structural Measures (everything from ‘Hand Hygiene’ to ‘Identification and Mitigation of Risks and Hazards’) and 15 related to Outcome Measures (from MRSA and CDiff infections, all the way to death during surgery). To view the 27 measures, please click here.

A cyst removal should be considered a routine procedure, not one that causes more severe injuries. Yet for one woman, this is exactly what happened. The woman underwent a procedure for the removal of a cyst. However, after the procedure the woman suffered from a severe shoulder joint infection. The woman filed a lawsuit in Cook County alleging the doctor failed to perform the procedure properly and did not provide adequate care. The medical malpractice lawsuit seeks damages of more than $50,000.

About Cysts

A cyst is a closed sac-like structure that can be located in almost any part of the body. There are many types of cysts but most of them feel like small bumps that may be painful to the touch. Cysts may be filled with various materials such as liquid, semi-solid, or gaseous substances. Most cysts do not pose any health risks; however, in some cases it is best to remove them. This is particularly important if they are located near an organ or if they are causing pain or discomfort.
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A woman filed a lawsuit in Cook County against Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The lawsuit alleges that a nurse used needles potentially contaminated with HIV and hepatitis B and C. The woman is seeking damages and medical expenses in excess of $50,000. According to the lawsuit, the woman was a patient at the hospital for treatment of a gluteal abscess and polymicrobial sepsis. Because she was a type I diabetic, she required insulin injections several times per day. The nurse administered the insulin shots. Later, doctors informed the woman that the nurse used the wrong needles. Even worse, the needles she used were previously used on a patient who was positive for HIV as well as hepatitis B and C.

HIV and AIDs
HIV and AIDs are typically transmitted through sexual contact or through the sharing of contaminated needles. In this instance, the woman may suffer from dangerous and life threatening injuries that may not be immediately evident. HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, causes a compromised immune system, which can lead to AIDS, and can be dangerous or fatal to patients. HIV may take months or even years after exposure to show up in the person’s system. There is no actual cure for HIV, although treatments have been able to successfully suppress or slow the disease in some cases.
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When you go to the hospital you expect to get proper care to resolve your medical condition. However, recent studies have found that some patients are actually acquiring infections at hospitals, causing serious illness or even death. According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 1 in 25 hospital patients contracts an infection while in the facility. This amounts to more than 720,000 patients a year. While not all of the infections contracted are serious, some are deadly. It is estimated that 75,000 people died because of hospital acquired infections in 2011 alone, which equates to more than 200 deaths per day. This number seems staggering, yet it may be growing.

Types of Hospital-Acquired Infections
People expect a hospital to be a sterile and safe place. Yet there are a large number of infections that people get after arriving at the facility. About half of the infections are contracted inside the ICU while the other half are contracted in the general care rooms or as a result of surgery. The most common infections that occur in hospitals include:
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A woman is suing her doctors along with an Evanston hospital after a misdiagnosis led to the partial amputation of her foot. The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges that the doctors misdiagnosed a foot injury. The woman visited the hospital after having stepped on a needle. She was misdiagnosed with cellulitis, given a prescription for Cipro and sent home. Three days later, after the symptoms worsened, the woman was admitted to the hospital and developed gangrene in her foot. This caused the amputation of one of her toes and surrounding tissues. The lawsuit further states that the doctor failed to properly monitor her condition and did not order an MRI in a timely manner. Had that been done, the outcome would likely have been very different.

Misdiagnosis by Doctors
Misdiagnosis is a form of negligence or malpractice on the part of a doctor. Doctors and medical professionals are held to a high standard and are obligated to provide the proper level of care. When they do not take the steps necessary to determine a correct diagnosis, they are negligent in their duties. Further, when the negligence leads to serious injury or death, the doctor can be held responsible. In this case, the woman ended up losing part of her foot, an injury that will have lifelong consequences. The lawsuit states that the doctor waited too long to provide the right medical treatment, resulting in gangrene and the loss of a toe.
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Medical malpractice is never acceptable, but it is particularly disturbing when the victims are children. While child patients are much more resilient than their adult counterparts in many ways, young children often have not fully developed their immune systems so they can be much more susceptible to serious hospital infections. These infections can be spread by failures to properly sterilize or clean equipment properly. When hospitals fail to follow proper procedures, large scale outbreaks become possible and deadly diseases can be spread to vulnerable patients.

Pediatric Patients Potentially Exposed to Pathogens at Seattle Children’s Hospital

Outpatient Surgery Magazine reports that up to 12,000 pediatric patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital may have been exposed to bloodborne pathogens since 2010. The hospital reports that it has learned that its surgical center has been reprocessing equipment incorrectly. The problem came to light when someone at the surgical center discovered debris on some instruments that should have been clean. While the instruments had been properly sterilized, they had not been washed correctly. As a result all of the surgical center’s patients are being warned to be tested for hepatitis B and C as well as being tested for HIV.
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Two things are true of hospitals: they are full of sick people and they are full of people who are vulnerable to infections. This is one of the reasons why using properly sterilized equipment is of paramount importance in hospital settings. When hospitals fail to properly sterilize equipment, the result can be personal injury or even wrongful death. While it is a shame when this sort of lapse happens at any sort of hospital, it is most horrifying when it happens at a VA hospital tasked with treating the men and women who have already put their lives on the line for our country. Unfortunately, this does happen.

VA Hospital Uses Dirty Scissors on a Patient
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Just as it is tasked with determining whether prescription drugs should be approved for sale in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also tasked with determining which medical devices should be approved. While some problems that come up with these devices are simply instances of medical malpractice on the part of a healthcare provider, other times the problems are a result of the devices themselves. That is what makes the approval process so important. It appears now that one medical device believed to be responsible for patient illnesses and deaths was never approved by the FDA for sale to begin with.

Dangerous Superbug Scopes Not FDA Approved

CNN reports that the manufacturer of the endoscope connected to two UCLA patient deaths from a superbug never obtained FDA approval to sell the endoscope. The company, Olympus, started selling the TJF-Q180V duodenoscope in 2010. The FDA then realized in either 2013 or 2014 that Olympus had never even asked for the agency’s permission to market the scope. The device manufacturer says that it did not think it needed to ask for permission, but it has now filed a proper request. Its application is pending.
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