Many people think that acquiring an infection is a case of happenstance. It is normal for people to acquire an infection is the belief as well. Some might even think that infections born out of medical treatment is a natural and normal side effect of medical care.
Consider the following common infections: blood stream infections, pneumonia, surgical site infections, and intestinal infections. Estimates indicate that somewhere around 700,000 hospital patients are inflicted with these and other types of infections yearly.
Experienced medical malpractice attorneys know that this should never be accepted as ‘normal’. Many patients even die from hospital acquired infections.
So how can a doctor, nurse, or other medical provider or facility be liable for an infection? Basic principles of negligence will provide an answer.
Medical professionals owe a duty of care to patients that require them to not cause additional harm that could have been prevented. The treating medical personnel are judged in accordance with the standards prescribed by the profession. A comparison will take place. The offending doctor’s actions will be reviewed, analyzed and compared to what another doctor in the same community would have done in a like mannered situation.
If another similarly situated doctor would not have done what the offending doctor did, then the offending doctor can be said to have breached his duty to the patient. Once there is a breach, the doctor has exposed himself or herself to potential liability.
The word, ‘potential’, is used here because more must be proved before the offending doctor can be ordered to pay compensation to the victim. The breach of duty must have been the proximate cause of the patient’s injury.
Therefore, if a ventilated patient acquired pneumonia from breathing in oxygen through a germ infested tube, the doctor, nurses, and or health care facility could be held liable for the damages caused by the infection if a negligent act contributed to the injury. The same holds true if a blood stream infection is born through a problem with a central line. If surgical instruments were contaminated but nonetheless used during surgery, a surgical site infection can be compensable.
Lastly, the injury must have led the victim to suffer damages; there must have been a loss. Of course pain and suffering is compensable. Also compensable are the medical costs incurred by the victim that is attributable to the doctor’s negligent act. This includes costs of additional follow up care, longer hospitalizations, additional pharmaceutical costs, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and loss of future income just to name the basic damages.
If the victim dies from an infection, his or her loved ones can sue to recover losses. The administrator of the decedent’s estate can also step in the shoes of the decedent and sue the offending doctor.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.