The prospect of facing surgery is a frightening one, which should not be made even more troublesome by concerns of negligence by surgeons and hospital staff. Yet, for many patients, routine surgery turns into a nightmare when they discover that one of the most basic elements of hospital safety, the use of sterile surgical instruments, has been neglected.
Surgical site infections caused by the use of dirty instruments can mean excruciating pain, prolonged recovery, loss of limbs or organs, and even death. Dirty surgical instruments do not always cause infections at the surgery site. Patients may have to face the horror of exposure to diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (mad cow disease). Even when initial test results are negative, these diseases may not show themselves for many months. Patients live in fear of life-threatening illness for themselves, and the possibility of exposing loved ones.
How does it happen?
There are a variety of circumstances, which can lead to the use of dirty surgical instruments. Hospitals have a duty to maintain policies and procedures, which will ensure patient safety, including proper sterilization procedures. Some hospitals try to cut corners by reusing instruments intended for one-time use. In some cases a breakdown in procedure or simple human error can be the cause. Even when adequate policies and procedures are in place and followed properly, equipment failure can be the culprit.
When a hospital discovers that dirty instruments may have been used it has a responsibility to inform any and all patients who may have been affected, to immediately begin testing for any possible infections, and to take preventative actions, such as prescribing antibiotics, in case exposure occurred. This could be the result of discovering a specific error, which affected only one patient, or it could be something less definite, such as a possible failure of sterilization equipment, which may have affected many patients who were treated during a certain time period. Patients should never be asked or expected to pay for testing or treatment required in these types of cases.
Each case is unique. Even when hospitals act quickly to minimize or prevent injury, they are still responsible for the results of their errors. Some hospitals will try to hide their mistakes, prolonging treatment and increasing the chance of life-threatening infections. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed due to the use of dirty surgical instruments you may be entitled to compensation including:
If you have been injured by the use of dirty surgical instruments, chances are others have suffered or will suffer a similar fate at the hands of the negligent facility. Often, these types of errors are only addressed when victims take action and seek compensation.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed due to the use of dirty surgical instruments, please contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney today.