Hospital Infection Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Increase

Most of us think of going to the hospital as a way to get better, not as a means to get sick. However, contracting an infection as a result of a hospital stay is happening more and more these days across the nation - and medical malpractice lawsuits based on hospital infections are commanding very large damages awards.

90,000 deaths occur each year

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)� over two million hospital infections occur each year - 90,000 of those resulting in death. In addition, the CDC estimates that an additional 1.5 million infections occur in long term care facilities each year.

Courts have ruled that these are preventable and patients who sue these medical facilities are being awarded large jury verdicts or settling their cases for millions of dollars. According to an article in LawyersUSA and other news reports, these three cases were recently resolved for several million dollars:

  • November 2008: The family of a Massachusetts woman who died of a flesh eating bacteria virus while in a hospital for cancer treatment for Ewing's sarcoma was awarded $13.5 million in a jury verdict.
  • November 2008: A Utah woman contracted a flesh eating bacteria and lost three of her limbs and several of her organs while in a hospital delivering her child and settled her case for $16 million.
  • July 2008: A Missouri man contracted a staph infection and lost his kidney, a leg and a foot while in the hospital having a pacemaker inserted and was awarded $2.58 million.

Preventable medical malpractice injuries

Consumer advocate groups and legal experts say that while these are preventable injuries, hospitals aren't doing everything they could to prevent them - and are being sued because of it. In fact, Betsy McCaughy, the founder and chair of the Committee to Reduce Infection and Deaths, a New York based non-profit safety organization, says that although over half of all U.S. states now have laws requiring the reporting of infections acquired in hospitals, these types of lawsuits are the "next asbestos" - meaning that there will be a great deal of litigation over the issue in the future.

While the issue is only now becoming headline news, it is in no way a new issue. The U.S. government has already taken a hard stance on the issue. In October of 2008, it reported that Medicare will no longer provide reimbursement for certain types of hospital-acquired infections.

If you've been injured due to a hospital acquired infection, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. As always, consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.