Here in Connecticut, the trust that patients place in their caregivers is very delicate. Being able to rely on hospitals, doctors and other medical professionals is important for a patient’s safety and peace of mind. However, this trust can be broken and mistakes may happen. Hospital errors can result in financial burden, injury or even fatality. Recently, a hospital in another state was compelled to notify patients that they may have been exposed to a deadly disease due to their apparent negligence.
The error occurred when a hospital failed to sterilize surgical instruments correctly. A patient had been operated on who may have had a very dangerous disease, and the hospital admitted they should have taken extra measures to clean the instruments after use. Because this did not occur, nearly twenty patients may have been exposed to the disease, for which there is no cure.
The hospital defends itself by saying that the risk of contracting this particular disease is fairly low, and that diagnosis is difficult. Other hospitals who have dealt with this situation have often faced litigation from the patients affected. Some groups in the past have even suggested not informing patients at all, as there is no way to treat it and the prognosis is so dire. Patient advocates argue that people have a right to be informed of their risk. The hospital in this story agreed and took measures to notify anyone who may have been infected.
Only time will tell if anyone has contracted this deadly condition. A civil claim may be the best option for those who may have been affected, as they may have to contend with outstanding medical bills, funeral expenses and other costs related to the incident. If a claim were successfully litigated, it could result in financial restitution that could be used for any of these bills or even towards the pain and suffering of surviving family members. Hospital errors may cost a patient his or her life and Connecticut families need to know the facts surrounding the situation.
Source: Los Angeles Times, Hospital error may put patients at risk of incurable disease, Paresh Dave, Feb. 12, 2014