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Infectious Disease Malpractice

Malpractice in infectious disease is often related to failure to identify the presence of an infection or failure to appropriately treat an infection in a timely manner. Many patients in hospital settings are infected as a result of failure to use proper sterile technique during surgery or poor wound care following surgery. Many times this results in serious consequences, such as the loss of a limb due to post-operative infection or an infection of the abdomen known as peritonitis following abdominal surgery. Post-operative wound infections are very difficult to pursue as this is considered to be a known complication of surgery. The events that occur in the operating room, which may or may not have caused the infection, are often performed in situations where there is no documentation of what occurred and the facts are always in the control of the defendant hospital. They are immune from discovery. A winning case may involve treatment of Group B Strep or other infections where a known rigorous standard of treatment is involved but not followed. Arguably, failure to treat with prophylactic antibiotics is the basis for a successful malpractice case, especially in high-risk situations. Also, failure to remove hardware in the face of an orthopedic infection (osteomyelitis) is a breach of the standard of care. Causation issues can be difficult in such cases. Often times, infectious disease specialists are useful as secondary experts, with the primary expert coming from the field in which the infection occurred.

 

Generally cases against hospitals alleging poor sterile technique for outbreaks of infection have failed and have occasionally caused good lawyers huge difficulties with countersuits, etc.  

 

Any type of infection that is left untreated can progress to a bloodstream infection known as sepsis, which can lead to death if not promptly diagnosed and treated appropriately. Failure of an infectious disease specialist to diagnose and appropriately treat an infection in the spinal column may lead to total paralysis. Failure to diagnose and treat meningitis, a serious infection of the tissue surrounding the brain, may lead to coma and death.




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