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Hospital Germ Malpractice Potential

Steven E. North, Esq.


Beware Dr. Germ

Three quarter of a million healthcare infections occur in U.S. hospitals annually resulting in the death of about 75,000 patients according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That is why many feel that a hospital is the least desirable place to be when you are sick, and there is some wisdom to that.

Hospitals are populated with sick people who, by virtue of the fact that they are ill, are home to germs that stay in the environment. Physicians and healthcare personnel who travel from patient to patient and room to room are the perfect transportation vehicle for those germs. Their hands come into direct contact with patients and family members, and their lab coats, ties, stethoscopes, cell phones, and anything else they bring into a room are exposed to germs that travel with them to next patient.

Although it is very difficult to establish a medical malpractice case against an institution based on improper sanitary conditions, such lawsuits are not unheard of. There are infectious disease control systems in hospitals and ongoing audits and tests to evaluate the presence of micro-organisms in the operating room and other very sensitive places. If such audits and tests indicate the possibility of an epidemic of infection, liability can be attached.

There are rare instances when medical instruments are dropped, coughed on, or otherwise contaminated within view of a patient or patient’s family. Although it is a weak and difficult basis on which to establish liability, such errors can serve as a foundation toward a law suit.

While it is not realistic to have healthcare providers dressed in “space suits” that they change as they move from room to room, finding ways to keep hospitals more sterile is an ongoing imperative. Something more has to be done to reduce the potential of dissemination of infection by the healthcare providers whose goal is to “do no harm.”

Source, Medscape, November 21, 2016