Each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm understand that by their very nature hospitals have one risk factor above ordinary places in the community: infections. Hospitals are places where sick people go for help. As a result there are more individuals with potentially contagious conditions at a hospital than in any other location. In addition, those exposed to the conditions are often other patients, many of whom already have weakened immune systems which might compound the risks. For this reason, hospital acquired infections remains very potent dangers.
However, these risks do not mean that hospitals are off-the-hook when they lead to patient harm. On the contrary, knowledge about these risks make it imperative that these facilities do everything in their power to reasonably control the dangers and keep patients from acquiring infections while in the facility. Proper safety protocols, including cleanliness standards are crucial in these effort. Failure to act reasonably, leading to infection might be an example of medical malpractice.
Hepatitis C Outbreak
For example, the Foster’s Daily Democrat posted a story this week on new medical malpractice lawsuits that were filed against a hospital following a hepatitis C outbreak at the facility. The outbreak was a very scary reminder of the risk of harm when these facilities do not act as they should to keep the location safe. All told at least 20 people contracted hepatitis C as a result of the outbreak–so far two lawsuits have been filed.
According to state health officials, the viral disease was spread by an employee who stole drugs from the hospital and injected the substances. The employee then re-used the contaminated medical equipment. The shocking circumstances of the outbreak are a reminder of the many ways that viruses and bacteria can spread in a facility. In addition, it is an indication of the utmost importance that hospitals must place on selecting employees who will not place patients in danger in any way.
According to the story, the first two suits include various claims against the facility. Part of the allegations involve negligent supervision of an employee and failure to properly train employees, among many other allegations. In addition, one of the lawsuit includes claims by one patient wife for loss of companionship, comfort, care, and society as a result of the viral infection. At least four other patients are expected to bring suit shortly. All of them are represented by the same medical malpractice attorney.
The second suit was filed on behalf of a 61-year old woman who contracted hepatitis C while at the facility. This suit included only one count of negligence. The attorney representing the plaintiff in that case explained the goal of proving that the facility failed to proper safety procedures and standard which would have prevented the reckless employees from stealing the medication.
The attorney summarized that, “It appeared that either they didn’t have the proper safety precautions or they failed to implement the precautions.”
It will be interesting to see how each of these cases shakes out and to understand exactly what led to this clear breach of protocol which affected so many patients.
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