Articles Posted in Infections

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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We go to hospitals to get well, not to get sick. Unfortunately, thanks to medical malpractice, it does not always work out that way. Sometimes these healthcare provider errors can result in patients suffering infections that can be life threatening. Two people who recently lost their lives due to a “superbug” were infected with their fatal disease when they were at a California hospital.

Nearly 180 Patients Exposed to Superbug

The Los Angeles Times reports that nearly 180 patients who were treated at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center may have been exposed to a potentially deadly bacteria that has already killed at least two people. They did not contract this illness from some other sick patient roaming the hospital. Instead, the culprit is contamination. Medical scopes contaminated with this bacteria were used on these patients. Another report by the newspaper notes that an 18-year old patient still in the hospital was diagnosed back in October with the drug resistant superbug CRE. He was treated with a medical scope tied to the outbreak.
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The American Association for Justice (AAJ) listed a wide variety of ways in which our country would be much worse off if there were no civil justice system in a recent article. We are detailing some of the ways in which health care would be affected if there were no civil justice system. Since medical malpractice law is a part of the civil justice system, eliminating that system would eliminate any recourse patients or their families have when they are hurt by medical professionals. For example, if you or your loved one contracted a severe infection in a hospital due to a hospital’s error, you would have no way of making the hospital pay for your increased medical bills.

The AAJ report tells the story of Dickson Clark. Clark had back surgery in Nevada in 2005, and wound up infected with MRSA in the hospital. MRSA, which can be lethal, is a type of staph infection that is drug resistant. As a result if the MRSA infection, Clark suffered through four years of hospitalizations and surgeries, not to mention further infections. Clark died in 2010. And Clark is not alone. According to AAJ, two million hospital patients get infections each year, and as many as 90,000 of them die. These numbers are WITH a civil justice system in place.
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In a recent article, the American Association for Justice listed a wide variety of ways in which our country would be much worse off if there were no civil justice system. Because medical malpractice law is a part of the civil justice system, hospitals would be severely impacted if there were no civil justice. Without civil courts, patients and their families would have no recourse when doctors, nurses, or other medical professionals hurt them by committing medical errors.

Medical professionals are human beings, so like all human beings, they make mistakes. And there is nothing that can be done to eliminate all mistakes-some people will wind up suffering from personal injuries or even wrongful death no matter how strong a society’s civil justice system is. But there is evidence that when a strong medical malpractice system is in place, patients are less likely to be victims of medical error.
Some of that evidence comes in the form of a study by two experts from Northwestern University. Zenon Zabinski from Northwestern’s Department of Economics, and Bernard S. Black, from the university’s School of Law, published a study last month entitled “The Deterrent Effect of Tort Law: Evidence from Medical Malpractice Reform.” In their study the experts concluded that in states where the legislature’s weakened the civil justice system by instituting caps on non-economic damages, patient safety consistently decreased when compared to control states. In other words, when the legislature guts the civil justice system patient’s suffer. Without the threat of large medical malpractice verdicts, medical professionals in so-called “tort-reform” states had less incentive to be careful.
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The word “hospital” is derived from the Latin word “hospes,” which means host or a visitor of a host. But even though hospitals are customarily thought of by patients as safe havens, they are actually filled with dangerous nosocomial infections, also known as hospital-associated infections (HAIs).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one out of every 20 hospitalized patients will develop an HAI. And with almost 100,000 HAI- related deaths a year, these infections can cause substantial harm to patients.

Magnitude of the Problem

Medical malpractice cases are some of the most specialized in the entire personal injury field. That is because the specific negligence in question is of a professional nature–not necessarily apparent to the general community member. Doctors spend years in post-graduate study understanding the specifics of their field, and so it is illogical to expect jurors to be able to understand what does or does not constitute proper care in any given situation.

Making matters even more complex is the fact that in instances of medical malpractice, patients are already sick with some injury or ailment. This adds confusion, because in virtually all cases the defense alleges that any adverse event–such as the patient’s death–was caused by the underlying ailment that brought them to the doctor originally–and not anything related the professional negligence.

All of this is why expert witnesses are so critical in these cases, explaining what happened in a particular situation, outlining the proper standards of care, and arguing whether the doctor’s conduct in any specific case did or did not meet those standards.

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