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We rely on hospitals to make us well. But it doesn't always work out that way. And while hospitals and healthcare settings try their best to remain sterile and clean environments, infections can and do happen in hospitals. A Reuters investigative report found a crisis of MRSA and other drug-resistant staph infection outbreaks in U.S. hospitals, made even worse by lax reporting requirements.
So what happens if you get MRSA in a hospital or health care facility? Do you have any legal options?
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly referred to as MRSA, is an antibiotic-resistant type of staph bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control warns that MRSA contracted in a healthcare setting like a hospital or nursing home can cause severe health problems, such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia, and surgical site infections, and, if not treated quickly, MRSA infections can cause sepsis and death.
Reuters also had the story of Shala Bowser, whose son Josiah was born 15 weeks premature, and, although he was responding well to neonatal care, died a week after catching an infection, just 17 days old. The hospital never told Bowser her son contracted MRSA, or that eight other children in the same intensive care unit were also infected. Currently, there are no rigorous standards when it comes to tracking infections or deaths from MRSA and other drug-resistant bacteria.
Hospitals can be held liable for negligence in some cases. Hospitals are responsible for hiring a medical staff of licensed physicians and health care providers, and if a hospital employee's negligence injures a patient, the hospital itself may be held liable for the negligent acts of its employees. Therefore if hospital staff failed to properly clean a scope or care for a wound or sterilize surgical equipment and a patient contracts an infection, the patient may be able to sue the hospital.
Proving liability in hospital negligence or medical malpractice cases can be difficult. As the Reuters report notes, tracking an infection and its cause is tricky, if not impossible. If you've suffered a MRSA infection while in a hospital and are thinking of filing a lawsuit, leave it to the experts -- contact an experienced personal injury attorney first.