Articles Posted in Infectious Disease

coronavirus hospital concerns

Illinois Hospitals and Coronavirus Disease Concerns

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues to closely monitor an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (named COVID-19) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China that has since infected thousands of people in several international locations. Some scientific research has provided estimates that each infected person could spread the virus to as many as 3.5 people without effective containment measures. With new warnings from the CDC alarming Americans to brace for the likelihood that the coronavirus will spread to U.S. communities like Chicago, it is critical hospitals and local health departments are prepared.

As of February 24, 2020, two coronavirus cases have been detected and treated in the state of Illinois. CBS Chicago reported that a husband and wife couple in their 60s were being treated for the virus at St. Alexius Hospital in Hoffman Estates. The woman had recently returned from Wuhan. Her husband, who had not been in China, was also diagnosed with the virus. This was the first known case of human-to-human transmission of coronavirus in the U.S. In Illinois, 68 individuals have been tested for the virus, with the elderly couple being the only two positive cases reported at this time.

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Ongoing Bacterial Infection Kills 3 Pennsylvania Preemies

At Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania, three infants have died, and five others have become ill in the neonatal intensive care (NICU) unit since July 2019. A waterborne bacterial infection, which is preventable, is to blame. The children were born prematurely with weakened immune systems. They all became ill once infected by the pseudomonas bacteria, a common strain found in hospital settings when the hands of healthcare workers or contaminated equipment are not adequately cleaned. Patients, such as those infants in the NICU who require breathing machines, are potentially at risk for serious, life-threatening infections related to the bacteria.

A hospital official said that Geisinger has taken “extensive measures” to stop the infection from spreading, including “achieving optimal chlorination in water lines, improving and maintaining vigilance in donor breast milk processing, routine tap water cultures, increased deep cleaning of our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and many others.”

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Information About Sepsis Dangers and Sepsis-Associated Deaths in Hospital Settings 

When a person’s immune system becomes compromised, the body can respond in deadly ways, such as septicemia, a lethal condition more commonly known as – sepsis. A 2019 Critical Care Medicine investigative report confirmed that sepsis is highly present in hospitals and that it contributes significantly to patient deaths, some preventable. About one-third of people who develop sepsis will die from it, and as many as 65 percent of those people were being treated for another issue in a hospital setting at the time of their sepsis diagnosis.

Sepsis occurs when a person develops a bacterial infection in their bloodstream. It can happen to any patient, at any age. For those who survive, many will be left in a life-altering state and battle conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue, organ dysfunction, brain and heart conditions, and disabling amputations. Family members and caregivers may also become exhausted and depressed due to the difficult recovery and therapies their loved one now requires. 

The parents of an infant girl are suing Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), alleging that hospital’s failure to follow standard infection prevention controls led to their daughter’s death. She is one of 23 infants who were sickened during a 2016 hospital outbreak of adenovirus. Recent reports have indicated that there is a second infant who died, also allegedly due to the same viral contamination.

Melanie Sanders was a premature baby receiving treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit at CHOP, the 3rd best children’s hospital in the country according to U.S. News and World Report. Melanie, along with 22 other infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), became ill after receiving an eye exam. Each of the infants was diagnosed with adenovirus, a group of viruses that cause respiratory symptoms and can lead to pneumonia, an infection that can prove fatal to vulnerable hospital patients, especially children, those with compromised immune systems, and the elderly.

Of the 23 infants sickened by the virus, all showed respiratory symptoms, while 5 of these infants developed pneumonia. The hospital reported in the June 2017 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control that 12 of these patients “required increased respiratory support.” In addition to the 23 infants, 3 parents and 6 hospital employees acquired the virus.

The Center for Justice & Democracy, a consumer rights advocacy group out of New York Law School, has compiled a review of medical malpractice incidents and has publicly shared their findings. Entitled “Medical Malpractice: By the Numbers,” the briefing examines recent medical studies and investigations of both inpatient and outpatient groups and facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and hospice organizations.

The data brings deficiencies in medical care into the spotlight, specifically the care Americans receive within hospitals. Below is a summary of information from the report our medical malpractice attorneys think is particularly informative and worth sharing. All data sources can be found in the CJ&D briefing. We have included the page number of the report that contains the source for each statistic.


We often explain how medical malpractice cases refer to civil lawsuits where an injured party (or their family) is seeking financial accountability for the consequences of medical errors. Because they are civil lawsuits, they are filed between two private parties, which can include individuals, businesses, or even public entities. Our medical malpractice lawyers in Chicago work on these cases.

In rare situations, at the same time that civil lawsuits are filed, a negligent professional may also face criminal charges. These are separate but concurrent legal matters. They do not involve one private party suing another. Instead, as in all criminal cases, it is technically the society as a whole (represented by a prosecutor) seeking accountability against someone who broke a criminal law. While the individuals directly affected by the criminal conduct may have a personal interest in ensuring criminal accountability, they technically are not a party in any criminal case.

Perhaps the most high-profile recent example of a case of malpractice against a doctor that resulted in criminal liability is that of Dr. Conrad Murray–the former personal doctor to Michael Jackson. Murray was convicted of committing crimes because his improper conduct was so obviously wrong–dispensing medication recklessly–that it rose above mere negligence.

CBS Evening News reported last week on the rise of a frightening new medical threat that is affecting a rising number of patients all across the country. Medical professionals have identified a new class of infection that patients are getting once they are at hospitals for other reasons. The infection is a “superbug” that seems resistant to antibiotics, unable to be treated in any way at all.

The bug is similar to MSRA, the well-known hospital borne infection that plagues many medical facilities. While potentially deadly, MSRA can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics. However the new hospital problem is worse. Specifically, five different superbugs have been identified as plaguing hospitals everywhere. One out of every five infections that intensive care patients get while at the hospital are now of this more resistant variety.

The problem truly cannot be overstated. As one infectious disease doctor explained, “What these organisms have done, by creating super-antibiotic resistance, is that they’ve set medicine back by 70 years in time.”

A hospital, where officials say a nurse may have exposed more than 1,800 patients to HIV and hepatitis by reusing medical supplies, says that patients are currently being tested for HIV. Officials at the hospital said that 410 of the 1,851 potentially exposed patients have been tested. Earlier this month the hospital discovered that 59-year-old nurse was reusing IV tubing and saline bags during cardiac chemical stress tests. While hospital officials said that the chances of infection are low, it cannot be ruled out. Police are currently investigating this tremendous medical error. To read more about the medical malpractice, please click the link.

Five former patients of a urology center filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, alleging that the facility improperly used medical supplies on multiple patients, potentially exposing them to danger illnesses. According to a report, the center contacted 5700 patients to warn them of a risk of blood borne illnesses and suggested they get tested because the center misused single-use supplies. Five of the patients contacted filed the lawsuit together, claiming that the center knew this practice was improper but continually reused supplies anyway. To read more about this medical malpractice lawsuit click on the link.

Recently, a pediatrics resident at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago was diagnosed with tuberculosis, an infectious disease of the lungs that can often to lead to death. Since last fall, the resident has worked at three hospitals in the Chicago area and has come into contact with hundreds of co-workers and young patients. The hospitals are now trying to track down the patients so that they can be tested for the disease. As of April 12, no new cases of tuberculosis had been found in those that were tested, however that was a very small sample of the patients exposed. To read more about this tuberculosis scare follow the link.

Each year, hundreds of medical malpractice lawsuits are filed due to hospital-borne illnesses. When hospitals are negligent in preventing patients from being exposed to dangerous diseases and infections, the consequences can be devastating. If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered injury or death as a result of medical negligence, please call Levin & Perconti at312-332-2872 to discuss your case with a medical malpractice attorney.

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