Hospital Acquired Infection Claim Solicitors
Each year in the UK, thousands of people contract infections whilst in hospital; most will recover, but if not recognised and treated promptly they can be the cause of permanent injury or even death.
If you have been affected by an infection, such as MRSA or C. difficile, acquired in a healthcare setting, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. Infections caught in hospitals and nursing homes are fairly common - however many of them could be avoided. Hospitals have a duty of care to ensure that they are hygienic and safe to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. When infections do occur, it is vital that they are detected and treated as early as possible in order to avoid long-term damage.
If you think that your infection was caused by negligence on behalf of the hospital, or that your treatment after acquiring an infection was below the standard you would reasonably expect, you may be able to claim compensation. Talk to us today – Sheldon Davidson Solicitors are highly skilled in the area of medical negligence, and we have a formidable track record of helping clients who have suffered as a result of a hospital acquired infection. Your initial consultation with us is free, and if we agree that you have grounds to make a claim, we will work hard to ensure that you receive what you are entitled to.
What am I entitled to?
Following our initial consultation, if we examine your case and find that you have good cause to make a claim, we will assess your situation to calculate the compensation you are entitled to. General damages are the most commonly awarded costs, to compensate for pain, suffering or loss of amenity caused by the infection. This takes into account several factors, including:
- the extent of the damage caused, and whether the infection is life altering, or has impacted on your life expectancy
- any mental or physical pain or loss of amenity you have experienced as a result of the infection
- the length of time you will need to recover.
Additionally, it may be possible to claim for loss of income and any other expenses you may have incurred due to as a result. If you have lost a relative as a result of an infection acquired in hospital, you may have the legal right to pursue compensation on their behalf.
If you are unsure or would like advice about what happened to you, call one of our medical negligence team today for a consultation – with no obligation. One of our medical negligence claims specialists will be able to offer advice and give you a personalised estimation of the amount that you may be able to claim.
Are there time limits for making a claim?
When dealing with medical negligence claims, you generally have three years to make a claim. There may be exceptions to this rule in limited circumstances, but we recommend seeking legal advice as early as possible so that you do not risk running out of time.
What is a hospital acquired infection?
Each year, approximately 300,000 patients acquire an infection during their stay in hospital, according to The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Some of these infections, whilst unpleasant, are not life threatening; norovirus for example is a highly contagious stomach bug, but others can be much more serious, and difficult to treat.
MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus)
One of the most commonly acquired infections, MRSA can be life-threatening to anyone, but patients with a weakened immune system are particularly vulnerable. If not recognised and diagnosed early, it can develop into a range of infections which can be life-threatening if not treated quickly, such as:
- boils, impetigo, cellulitis, folliculitis, necrotising fasciitis
- pneumonia and bronchiectasis.
- urinary tract infections
- infections of the joints or bones, such as septic arthritis
- toxic shock syndrome and sepsis
- infection of the heart (infective endocarditis).
MRSA is treated with antibiotics but is known as a “superbug” as it has adapted to become resistant to a number of antibiotics. Hospitals work to prevent the spread of MRSA by screening and testing patients prior to their admission to hospital. Following a swab test, if you are found to have MRSA, you will have to undergo treatment known as “decolonisation” which involves applying an antibacterial cream to the inside your nose, washing with antibacterial shampoo and changing your bedding, towels and clothing every day. Inside healthcare settings, it is crucial that stringent hygiene measures are followed, such as disinfecting surfaces, hand hygiene, and screening and monitoring other patients for MRSA.
Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
Clostridium difficile is a type of bacteria that is found in the bowel of around 1 in 30 people. Most of the time it causes no problems, as it is regulated by other bacteria in the bowel. However, following a course of antibiotics, especially over an extended period can upset the balance, leading to an infection of the bowel which causes diarrhoea, a fever, pain and nausea.
Much like MRSA, C. diff is highly infectious and needs to be treated with antibiotics. It is important that hygiene standards are strictly followed if a case of C. diff is found – once out of the body the bacteria can survive on surfaces for very long periods of time, making it easy to transmit unknowingly.
For most people, C. diff will resolve within a couple of weeks with the right treatment. However, as with MRSA, people with a weakened immune system are at increased risk, and if it is not treated promptly with antibiotics, it can go on to damage the bowel. In serious cases the bowel can be so badly damaged that surgery may be needed, so it is crucial that there is no delay when it comes to diagnosis and treatment of C diff.
Escherichia Coli (E. coli)
Escherichia coli is a bacterial infection that causes gastroenteritis. It can cause severe stomach pain and bloody diarrhoea, symptoms which can last up to two weeks. Whilst it can be caught by eating contaminated food, it can also be passed from person to person, particularly if hand hygiene is not scrupulous after using the toilet or when handling food.
There is no specific treatment, but most people will go on to recover within a couple of weeks. However, in some rare cases, people with an E. coli infection can go on to develop haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). This is a severe condition that can sometimes lead to kidney failure and may be fatal. Children aged under five years are at the highest risk of HUS.
How do hospital acquired infections spread?
Hygiene and cleanliness in hospitals is key in preventing patients from catching infections, and from bacteria being spread to visitors who may then take them out into the wider community. Viruses are transmitted through touching or contact, coughing or sneezing, or through bodily fluids, which is why stringent hygiene protocols in healthcare settings are vital.
According to the NHS, around 1 in 30 people carry MRSA in their nose or on their skin without knowing it. It can be relatively harmless to healthy people, but patients staying in hospital are more at risk of infections. This is because:
- They are more likely to have open wounds or sores, and the piercing of skin with needles or catheters can provide an entry point for infection.
- Many patients have weakened immune systems, which leave them more vulnerable to infection than a healthy person.
In addition, the movement of staff and visitors around busy hospitals increase the opportunity for infections to spread widely, making it easy to see how patients are susceptible and at an increased risk if hygiene standards are not sufficiently maintained.
How is negligence proved in hospital acquired infection claims?
All hospitals, whether NHS or private, have a duty of care towards their patients. They must ensure that their premises are hygienically clean to reduce the risk of infection, and if a patient does acquire an infection, they must be treated quickly and effectively to ensure that their condition is not allowed to worsen.
If you believe that your infection was caused by a failure to follow hygiene protocols (such as hand washing, isolating infectious patients, covering open wounds) then you may have grounds to make a claim for compensation. Equally, if your infection was allowed to progress further than it needed to due to a failure to recognise the symptoms or a delay in getting treatment, your care may have been negligent.
In order to prove that negligence has occurred, photographic or verbal evidence can be useful, and keeping a record, or recording a timeline of events can be invaluable. Due to the nature of infections, it is unlikely that your case will have been an isolated case; generally whole groups of people will be infected. If you are unsure as to whether you have cause to make a claim, our medical negligence team can help. Get in touch with us and we will listen to you and determine whether negligence has been a factor in your infection and subsequent treatment.
Why trust Sheldon Davidson Solicitors with your claim?
At SDS Solicitors, we have a team of personal injury experts who understand what you are going through, and who have extensive experience of supporting clients who have acquired an infection whilst in hospital. We don’t believe that you should have to suffer as a result of clinical negligence, and we will do everything we can to support you through the process of making a claim.
We work with specialist medical experts, and we will get to know you and the details of your case to ensure that we give your claim the best chance of a successful outcome. We will determine whether your hospital acquired infection could have been avoided, and whether negligence contributed to your contracting the virus or any subsequent delays in diagnosis or treatment.
If you have suffered following an infection you caught whilst in hospital and you are wondering whether you have grounds to make a claim, speak to us as soon as possible. Our trusted experts will offer advice and support, and if you have a case, we will work tirelessly on your behalf to get you the compensation that you deserve.
Established in Manchester in 1997, we are a leading specialist medical negligence law firm acting for claimants nationwide.
Our expert medical negligence solicitors regularly act for clients across Greater Manchester including Ashton, Bury, Bolton, Radcliffe, Prestwich, Middleton, Failsworth, Rochdale, Oldham and Whitefield.
Sheldon Davidson Solicitors are a Lexcel accredited personal injury law firm. Our team of recognised Hospital Acquired Infection Claims Solicitors can support your needs wherever you live in Wales, England & Northern Ireland.
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