Over 2 million hospital acquired infections occur each year according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also estimates that another 1.5 million infections occur annually in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.
Until recently, it was extremely difficult to prove negligence against a hospital or a long term care facility for infections acquired in those facilities. Healthcare facilities would successfully argue that such infections were inevitable in such an environment. But in 2007, the CDC published guidelines that facilities should follow to prevent infections. Other organizations are studying the problem as well.
As a result, the standard of care in hospital and nursing home infection cases is tilting more toward the patients and successful verdicts are coming in from around the country. In Missouri, a judge ordered the federal government to pay $8.6 million to the former wife of an Air Force Captain where a military doctor failed to diagnose a case of flesh eating bacteria. A jury in Massachusetts just awarded $13.5 million to a woman who died from a flesh eating bacterial infection she contracted during cancer treatment. And a man in Missouri was awarded $2.58 million after contracting a staph infection during a pacemaker insertion which caused him to lose a kidney and one leg.
It is becoming clear that people injured by infections acquired in healthcare facilities now have a fighting chance to successfully prosecute claims against these facilities provided they failed to comply with standards such as those published by the CDC.