Hospitals Facing Infection Lawsuits

Claims based on hospital inquired infections are on the rise.  Recent jury verdicts suggest that more lawsuits will be filed.  On November 6, 2008, a jury awarded $13.5 million to a Massachusetts woman who died of an infection caused by flesh-eating bacetria she acquired during cancer treatment at the hospital.  On November 14, 2008, a Utah woman reached a confidential settlement in medical malpractice she filed against a hospital after the hospital failed to detect a flesh-eating bacteria resulting in the loss of limbs.  In July, a couple in Missouri was awarded $2.58 million after the husband contracted Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) when doctors at the hospital inserted a pacemaker.  As a result of the deadly MRSA, the man lost a kidney, a leg and a foot.  According to the CDC, 2 million patients acquire infections while at the hospital per year resulting in 90,000 deaths.  In the past, hospitals were successful in arguing that the vast majority of the infections were unpreventable.  This argument is no longer holding water.  The standard of care has been raised requiring hospitals to take appropriate measures to prevent infections.  Last year, the CDC published guidelines for preventing infections.  As of October 1, 2008, Medicare stopped reimbursing for certain type of hospital acquired infections.  Hopefully, by having the hospitals held accountable, the rate of deadly hospital infections will decline.

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