When a patient goes to the hospital with a condition that is very treatable they do not expect to contract a condition at the hospital that is worse, and possibly fatal. However, if a patient is exposed to contaminated equipment during their hospital stay, they can contract such a condition. Hospitals and other medical facilities are expected to take reasonable precautions to prevent patients from contracting a contagious disease. Should the facilities fail to take reasonable precautions they could be liable for the damages that injured patients may have incurred.
There are several ways patients may contract a potentially fatal disease during their stay at a hospital. It could be the failure:
- To clean and disinfect medical instruments or equipment properly,
- To change the bedding before a new patient enters the room,
- To remove or store used contaminated devices safely out of the reach of patients, or
- On the part of the medical staff to make sure that patients have been treated in an environment that is non-hazardous.
In Massachusetts and New Hampshire thirteen people were exposed to a rare and fatal brain condition called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) potentially from hospital equipment that may have been contaminated. Unfortunately this condition does not have a treatment and is usually fatal. These patients were affected after they had recently undergone neurosurgery or spinal surgery. They were potentially infected when surgical equipment that was not properly sterilized was used during the surgery.
Hospitals really have no excuse for failing to take the reasonable precautions necessary to protect patients. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide be used to disinfect equipment that may have been in contact with tissue that is infectious.
Patients who have developed an infection during a hospital stay, or stay at another health care facility, may be able to recover for medical bills, lost wages, future medical expenses, future wages, as well as for pain and suffering. A person who acquires an infection during their stay at a hospital or other health care facility should contact a medical malpractice attorney to investigate whether they have a claim against the health care provider.
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