There is a log of buzz in Maryland about medical malpractice cases against hospitals due to hospital infections, after an article in Maryland’s legal newspaper, The Daily Record, published an article that such lawsuits are on the rise. According to the article:
* On Nov. 6, a jury awarded $13.5 million in a medical malpractice case to the family of a Massachusetts woman who died of an infection caused by flesh-eating bacteria that she contracted during cancer treatment.
* On Nov. 14, a Utah woman reached a confidential settlement in a $16 million medical malpractice suit she filed, alleging that a hospital failed to detect necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating bacteria, before and after she gave birth, causing her to lose three limbs and several organs.
* In July, a Missouri couple was awarded $2.58 million in a medical malpractice case after the husband contracted a potentially deadly type of staph infection, known as Methicillin-Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA), when doctors inserted a pacemaker. As a result of the infection, the patient lost a kidney, and a leg and a foot had to be amputated.
The article also states that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimates that more than 2 million hospital-acquired infections occur annually, resulting in 90,000 deaths. In long-term care facilities, the CDC estimates an additional 1.5 million health-care associated infections occur each year. A copy of an article regarding the case can be found here.
Interestingly, the article did not interview any plaintiffs’ attorneys; only defense attorneys. Had they done so, they would have learned that attorneys have been suing hospitals for years for the failure to timely diagnose and treat infections. I have successfully handled a number of such cases over the years and they are always tragic and frequently involve serious injury or even death. They usually involve routine procedures, like orthopedic surgery or gallbladder surgery, which goes well, except for the fact that the patient develops a severe infection which is not timely diagnosed or treated.