Generally, you visit a medical facility to improve your health, not make it worse. Unfortunately, a number of people have become infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacterium after undergoing endoscopy procedures. Here's more information about this growing outbreak and what you should do if you're sickened as a result.
Superbugs and Duodenoscopes
Since 2012, about 250 people have fallen ill with infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria that hadn't been adequately scrubbed from duodenoscopes. These are flexible tubes used in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography procedures (ERCP) to diagnose and treat problems with bile ducts and the pancreas.
The duodenoscope is designed to be small and flexible enough to be fed down the throat and distribute dyes and medications. However, the design of some units appears to be the cause of the infections, as germs and tissue may still cling to the devices even after being cleaned according to the manufacturer's directions.
This has led to the spread of antibiotic-resistance bacteria—aka superbugs—among patients. These bacteria are difficult to kill because they have essentially developed immunity to most of or all the antibiotic drugs on the market. Someone infected with this type of bug may lose limbs, suffer permanent damage to overall health, or die as a result of being infected.
Recovering Compensation for Damages
How you go about recovering compensation for damages related to a superbug infection depends on the circumstances of the case. The first step is to determine who to hold liable for the incident. This could be the medical facility, manufacturer, a third-party company, or a combination of these entities.
For example, as previously noted, some infections were occurring even after the machines were cleaned and sanitized according to the manufacturer's directions, likely due to the design of the machine. In this case, the manufacturer could most likely be held responsible for your injuries under product liability laws. On the other hand, the medical facility could be on the hook for damages under medical malpractice laws if the staff failed to clean the machine properly due to lapses in policies and procedures.
A third-party company may be held liable if the medical facility outsources the cleaning of the machines to a contractor and the contractor fails to adhere to the proper rules and regulations for handling the medical equipment.
Finding out all the facts and selecting the right entity to sue is a critical component of the case because it will determine which cause of action you'll need to use to recover damages. Each cause of action has a different threshold that must be met for the plaintiff to prevail in the case. For instance, product liability laws require you to show that a defect in the machine's design or manufacturing or a company's failure to warn about a possible deleterious side effect of using the product caused the injury. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, however, you have to show the defendant failed in its duty to ensure the machine was free of harmful bacteria.
The next step is to gather the necessary evidence to support your case. This isn't always as easy as one would think because you have to show the infection came from the duodenoscope and not anywhere else. While superbug infections are often acquired from medical facilities, they're not the only places a person can pick up these bugs. Some superbugs, such as the antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, is passed via contact with an infected person.
Even if the superbug is one that's commonly acquired from medical facilities such as MRSA or CRE, a person could be infected in multiple different ways including from other equipment the patient may have had contact with besides the duodenoscope. Proving your case may require making the medical facility test multiple pieces of equipment to pinpoint the exact source of the illness.
Medical injuries are some of the most challenging cases to litigate. Working with an attorney that has experience in this area can make it infinitely easier to put together a viable case that may help you win compensation for your injuries. Contact personal injury attorney for more information.