Patients who go to the hospital with a treatable condition do not expect that they will contract a potentially fatal condition or be seriously injured. However, patients who are exposed to contaminated equipment or equipment that fails during their stay at the hospital can contract an illness or be injured. Hospitals and other medical facilities are expected to take reasonable precautions to prevent patient injury. Failure to take these precautions can lead to the medical facility being held liable for the patient’s injuries.
With regards to equipment contamination, patients may contract a potentially fatal disease during their hospital stay due to failure to:
- Properly clean and disinfect medical instruments or equipment,
- Change the bedding prior to a new patient entering the room,
- Remove and store used contaminated devices out of the reach of patients, or
- Ensure that patients are treated in a non-hazardous environment.
It has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide be used to disinfect the equipment that may have been in contact with infectious tissue.
With regards to equipment failure, it may result from defective equipment or caused by the negligence of a healthcare professional who has not received proper training on a particular instrument or has failed to adequately monitor the equipment. Many devices are required to be equipped with a failure mode or an audible alarm to alert physicians and hospital personnel of any malfunction. It is important that hospitals follow the regulations and proper standards of care when it comes to checking the machines to ensure that they are functioning properly and that the machines are safe to be used.
Types of medical equipment failure and resulting injuries include:
- IV Pump malfunctions leading to medication overdose
- Malfunction in a heart monitor resulting in missing heart arrhythmia
- Operator error
- PCA pump batteries die leading to an overdose in pain medication
- Malfunction in the defibrillator leading to too much electricity being delivered to the heart
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of equipment failure or equipment contamination, contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.
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