Can I Sue for an Infection Contracted at a Hospital?

The short is answer is - it depends. It is very tough (not impossible) to prove that the hospital was negligent for your getting an infection. But, if the hospital was late or delayed in discovering and treating your infection, you may have a good case if the delay caused a more serious problem resulting in a permanent injury. People getting medical care can catch serious infections known as healthcare or hospital-associated infections.

Among the more common life threatening infections found today are methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus commonly called "MRSA" and clostridium difficile typically called "C. diff". According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the germ C. diff - "was estimated to cause almost half a million infections in the U.S. in 2011, and 29,000 died within 30 days of the initial diagnosis." According to Science Daily's report of August 1, 2016: "A new epidemic strain of C. diff is proving alarmingly deadly, and new research not only explains why but also suggests a way to stop it." This new strain of C. diff reportedly has a mortality rate of 15% because it produces a toxin that kills protective cells called eosinophils. Researchers at the University of Virginia have just announced a method to restore depleted eosinophils which they transferred from a mouse to a patient. An infectious disease specialist should be familiar with this new development.


Anyone can get MRSA from contact with an infected wound, invasive medical procedures, IV lines, foley catheters and even body to body contact in the gym, daycare center and/or schools. Symptoms include reddish color on skin, swelling, pain, pus and/or fever. Complications of MRSA include sepsis, pneumonia, organ damage, and scarring. Treatment involves the prompt use of powerful antibiotics whether orally or more likely by intravenous administration.

Delays in recognition and treatment of MRSA bloodstream infection continue to happen, often with catastrophic results. When an infection is suspected you should expect that your white blood count is checked to see if it is elevated, that a blood culture is ordered to determine which bacterial organism is present - and - that your physician will identify the appropriate antibiotic for treatment such as vancomycin. Moreover care must be taken to insure that the side effects of the antibiotic treatment do not cause yet another medical problem. Significant delays in commencing antibiotic treatment can have tragic consequences.

                                                                                   C. diff

The average human digestive tract is home to over 1000 species of microorganisms. Most are harmless and even helpful. But otherwise harmless bacteria can grow out of control and make you feel sick. One of the worst offenders is the bacterium called C. diff which, when it overgrows, releases toxins that attack the lining of the intestines. Though relatively rare compared to other intestinal bacteria, C. diff is one of the most significant causes of infectious diarrhea in the U.S. According to the CDC, symptoms include watery diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and belly pain.

 C. diff is most likely to affect patients in hospitals or long-term care facilities. Most who develop C. diff are the elderly and those who have medical conditions that require long-term treatment with antibiotics. Antibiotics prescribed for other medical conditions also kill off other intestinal bacteria that keep C. diff in check. Especially of concern are: the side effects of broad spectrum antibiotics; those patient's on multiple antibiotics; and, patient's on antibiotics long term. Ironically, the standard treatment for C. diff is another antibiotic, such as flagyl or vancomycin. However, inappropriate antibiotic use can also cause C. diff.

Fecal microbe transplant, also known as a "stool transplant", though not approved by the FDA, is  emerging as a highly successful alternative strategy for treating recurrent C. diff infections. A stool transplant restores healthy intestinal bacteria by placing another person's stool in your colon through a colonoscope. Another treatment for C. diff are probiotics which are organisms, such as bacteria and yeast, which help restore a healthy balance to the intestinal tract.

Some of the malpractice claims arising out of C. diff include failure to timely order the C. diff test, or, to initiate empiric therapy in a timely manner both of which leads to poor outcomes. Failure to treat long enough or to discontinue offending antibiotic therapy may also prove to be malpractice. Use of anti-peristaltics such as Immodium or Lomotil is contraindicated in C. diff infections and can lead to toxic megacolon and death.

Ronald C. Burke, Esq

Trial Attorney with 30+ Years of Experience Attorney Ronald C. Burke, Esq. has more than 30 years of experience and has focused his career on representing clients in cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice and legal malpractice. He is a seasoned trial lawyer and has won many seven-figure settlements and verdicts for his clients over the years, including many case victories listed among the largest in the history of the New York State. He has been featured in the news and is a regular lecturer for the New York County Lawyers Association, as well as having lectured before the New York State Bar Association. Ron is also an attorney with Kelner & Kelner, a New York personal injury law firm. Awards and Accolades Mr. Burke's awards and accolades are many. Among them, he has been included in New York Super Lawyers® each year since 2010, and he has received the highest-possible AV® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®. Verdict Search, a part of the New York Law Journal, frequently recognizes his notable successes after winning some of the highest settlements and verdicts in past years. He was also featured in their list of the "Top New York Verdicts " and "Top New York Settlements." He is a member of the New York State Bar Association and is licensed to practice law in the U.S. District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, as well as before the United States Supreme Court. When Attorney Burke is not handling legal malpractice cases, he is highly involved in the local community. He was a member of the Village of Rockville Centre Volunteer Fire Department, has served on the local school board and as Chairman of the local Zoning Board. Learn more about Attorney Burke and how he can skillfully handle your malpractice case by contacting the Law Offices of Ronald C. Burke, Esq. right away to schedule your complimentary case evaluation. Our firm is here to help! Contact a New York Legal Malpractice Attorney Our firm provides each client's case with thorough preparation and aggressive representation, ensuring that you win the best possible results for your case whether it is settled or goes to trial. As a seasoned trial lawyer, Mr. Burke can provide the strong and relentless representation you need to establish negligence in a legal malpractice case and to recover any damages you may have suffered. Our firm can recover compensation for pre-trial and trial malpractice, violations of fee arrangements, loss of income, pain and suffering, and much more. Contact us today!


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