Tag: medical malpractice

Failure to Treat Sepsis – Medical Malpractice

The United States Government agreed to pay a former Utah family nearly $1 million to settle a medical malpractice case involving failure to treat infection / sepsis. The man was being treated for leukemia at at a Veterans Affairs hospital in 2004 when he developed a severe infection and died. His surviving wife and daughter filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, alleging that the hospital told him to take gas-x instead of going to the emergency room to get antibiotics. The man was diagnosed with leukemia in June 2004 and received chemotherapy at the VA in October. Three days after his last treatment, he had diarrhea and abdominal pain. After calling the hospital to see what to do, his wife was told by an oncology doctor that the man should take an over-the-counter medicine for gas. What he really needed were antibiotics immediately to fight off a severe infection.  He did not receive the antibotics and died and preventable death.

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Hospital Acquired Infections

Hospital acquired MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph infection) infects about 880,000 patients a year and accounts for about 8% of all hospital infections.  Hospital infections caused by all kinds of bacteria infects millions of patients per year.  Nearly all of these infections are now preventable.  They are preventable when doctors and the hospital staff clean their hands, rigorously practice proper hygiene and implement other preventive measures.  For example, central line bloodstream infections should no longer occur.  These infections take place when a device is inserted into the patient such as a tube in a vein.  If the person inserting the tube has not properly washed his hands or the insertion site has not been properly cleaned, bacteria can enter the bloodstream. 

Certain hospitals have taken the necessary steps to sharply reduce infection rates.  However, a recent survey performed by Leapfrog (a patient-safety organization) found that 87% of hospitals fail to consistently practice infection prevention measures.  This is unacceptable and Medicare agrees.  Starting in October 2008, Medicare will stop reimbursing hospitals for treatment of certain device related bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections and surgical infections.  Why? because Medicare has determined, and correctly so, that these infections should not bee happening and when they do happen, it is the result of the negligence on the part of the hospital.

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