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The Dangers of Virus Outbreaks in Hospitals – Can They be Held Accountable?

In 2016, Melanie Sanders and 23 other infants contracted adenovirus infections during an eye exam in the neonatal intensive care unit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The newborn infant was dead less than a month later.

Although premature, Melanie was born healthy and strong. Her family is suing the Children’s Hospital for wrongful death, alleging that Melanie’s fatal infection was due to negligence. In addition to developing a viral illness from unclean medical equipment, the lawsuit claims that the newborn went into respiratory distress and acquired a bacterial infection as a result. According to a report in the American Journal of Infection Control, each of the 23 affected babies suffered respiratory problems. The report went on to say that “observations revealed lack of standard cleaning practices of bedside ophthalmologic equipment and limited glove use.”

Cleanliness should be first and foremost in a hospital, especially when patients are newly-born infants who require intensive care. Improper cleaning and failure to wear gloves resulted in the contamination of medical equipment in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. As a result, one child is dead and nearly two-dozen others became seriously ill. A Boston birth injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if your newborn has been injured by another’s negligence.

Was Negligence a Factor?

Hospitals, medical centers, and the people who work there (physicians, nurses, and other health care staff) can be sued for wrongful death if their negligence caused a patient to die. In addition to more obvious examples of negligence, such as not washing medical equipment, medical negligence can involve actions that are more difficult to pinpoint, such as improper hiring processes. Negligent hiring can result in serious injury or death, but the patient or his/her family may not know to consider this possibility. This is one of the many reasons it is so important to consult with an experienced MA wrongful death attorney if you have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence.

Proving hospital or medical negligence is not an easy task. In the case above, if the courts determine that Melanie Sanders’ death was due to improper cleaning practices, the hospital and/or medical professionals involved will likely be found liable for negligence. The fact that 23 other babies were also affected makes it easier to track the infection to a specific occurrence. But the picture isn’t always as clear it was at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Even in the Sanders’ case, evidence will be crucial. The medical journal report on the viral outbreak will likely prove invaluable in any lawsuits against Children’s Hospital.

What is Adenovirus?

It’s hard to believe that such an outbreak could occur, due to uncleanliness, in a U.S. hospital in 2018…but it did. The CDC describes Adenovirus as “common viruses that cause a range of illness. They can cause cold-like symptoms, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and pink eye (conjunctivitis). You can get an adenovirus infection at any age. People with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory or cardiac disease are more likely than others to get very sick from an adenovirus infection.”

Preventing an adenovirus outbreak is similar to preventing an outbreak of any virus: frequently wash hands and avoiding contacting with an infected person. And, at least in the case of hospitals, proper cleaning and sterilization of medical equipment is also of paramount importance.

Altman & Altman, LLP—Boston’s Premier Wrongful Death Law Firm

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of accident and injury victims for more than 50 years, and our attorneys have an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for our clients. We understand how emotional and sensitive cases involving the injury or death of a young child can be. Our experienced, compassionate legal team will ensure that you fully understand your rights and options, and we’ll be by your side throughout the entire process. If you or a loved one has been injured, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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