Issue: June 2016
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How Risky Is Going to the Hospital? The Dangers and Liabilities of Healthcare-Associated Infections

Introduction

Liability for Healthcare-Associated Infection

Despite the significant progress that has been made in preventing some types of healthcare-associated infections, on any given day, one in 25 hospital patients is likely to contract a healthcare-associated infection, according to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. More than 648,000 people develop infections during a hospital stay each year in the United States. Of these, about 75,000 die.

 

Infections associated with hospitals and other health care providers pose a major threat to patient safety that is often preventable. Overuse of antibiotics and the growth of so-called “superbugs” contribute to the problem. Eight hospitals in Maine recently incurred fines because their incidence of patients contracting avoidable infections fell into the bottom 25 percent of hospitals across the country.

 

When patients contract an avoidable infection in a health facility, or when health care providers fail to treat or improperly treat these infections, litigation is likely to result. 

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and liability issues that can arise in connection with healthcare-associated infections.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to establish malpractice related to a healthcare-associated infection? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for an injury related to a healthcare-associated infection? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician to employ?

Insurers:

Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy be avoided by proof that the health provider was not negligent or there was no coverage for the provider’s actions? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ? 

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an employee’s healthcare-associated infection? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use?


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a health provider’s malpractice or negligence liability for a healthcare-associated infection.

Physicians:

Presented is a checklist of items a hospital or physician must consider when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving a healthcare-associated infection.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of negligence or malpractice resulting in a healthcare-associated infection.

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s healthcare-associated infection is “work related” in that it occurred during treatment for an on-the-job accident, or the health provider employee contracted the infection in the course of the provider’s employment.

Expert Analysis

What Tools Should Be Implemented Immediately To Prevent Hospital Infections from the Newly Discovered Superbugs?

Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D.

What Evidence May Prove Hospital Negligence for a Healthcare-Associated Infection?

Mary Coffey, JD

Litigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, may be mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.


Reasons To Reach Settlement

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to reach settlement, and not take the action to trial.


Reasons To Go To Trial

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to take the action to trial.


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what settlements have been reached recently in cases involving healthcare-associated infections?



Medical Examples

Healthcare-Associated Infections

This section provides detailed medical information on healthcare-associated infections, the terminology used, the types of infections, common sites for these infections, the diagnosis, treatment, and potential complications of specific infections, and protocols and guidelines for infection prevention and control. This section also discusses the patient’s prognosis and ability to work.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on healthcare-associated infections.  


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How Risky Is Going to the Hospital? The Dangers and Liabilities of Healthcare-Associated Infections

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D.
   Mary Coffey, JD

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys
   Physicians and Health Providers
   Insurers
   Employers and Risk Managers

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons To Reach Settlement

Reasons To Go To Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Healthcare-Associated Infections

Law and Medicine Resources