“The number of infections from drug-resistant bacteria in hospitals and clinics is staggering,” said Fred Pritzker, a lawyer who helps patients sickened in outbreaks of hospital infections get compensation.
“Our clients put their trust in medical product companies, and sometimes that trust is misplaced.”
Fred recently won $45 million for clients injured by a medical product. You can contact our law firm using our free consultation form.
Patients can be severely sickened, or even die, from bacterial and fungal infections. Recent outbreaks have involved:
- ultrasound gel contaminated with Burkholderia cepacia bacteria;
- saline solution contaminated with Burkholderia Cepacia;
- duodenoscopes (a special kind of endoscope) that can’t be adequately cleaned to prevent infection, including Carbapenum-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE);
- Bacteria called Mycobacteria (NTM);
- probiotics given to newborns that caused infections of vancomycin resistant Enterococcus (VRE);
- syringes made by a compounding pharmacy that were contaminated with fungus and caused meningitis and dangerous abscesses.
If you have been sickened by a defective medical product, you may have the right to sue the company that made that product.
One way to get bad products off of the market is lawsuits. This both brings media attention to the problem and makes it financially difficult to keep selling contaminated and otherwise defective products.
8 Outbreak Investigation Components
The following are components of a hospital infection outbreak investigation by local and state health investigators and the CDC, which is called in to investigate certain localized outbreaks and is always involved in multistate outbreaks.
Most of the components below are done in concert, and not all of them are done for every outbreak.
- Determine if there is an outbreak.
An outbreak is generally defined as 2 or more infections related by location and/or pathogen. You may hear the word “cluster” used. A cluster of infections is the same thing as an outbreak. Sometimes the CDC and other health agencies use “cluster” instead of outbreak because it is not as weighted a word. Part of this preliminary work is done to find out if it is actually a sudo-outbreak, one that is “false positive” and caused by a change in a lab test or contamination of samples in a unsanitary processing lab.
- Define a case patient.
This needs to be done to determine how many people were sickened. It involves deciding what factors will be used to include patients. Things like location, pathogen, time sickened and symptoms are considered.
- Confirm cases.
Confirming cases generally involves both epidemiology and microbiology. Was the patient treated at the same hospital or clinic as other cases? Was the patient sickened with the same bacteria, virus, fungi or parasite?
- Determine rate of disease.
How many cases are there, and when did symptoms start?
- Determine how dangerous the agent of infection.
Is it uncommon, drug-resistant or is it often fatal? Obviously, the more dangerous the situation, the more money the CDC and other health agencies are willing to put into finding the source and stopping it.
- Generate and test hypotheses.
Throughout the investigation, the data gathered is analyzed and reanalyzed to generate test hypotheses. The investigation may be going one way when new information comes in that leads in another direction.
- Collect and test environmental and product samples.
Once there is an idea where the infection is being transmitted, health officials can collect and test swabs from surfaces of that hospital or clinic for the presence of the outbreak agent (bacteria, virus, fungi or parasite). If evidence is pointing to a medical product, that is also tested, for example, unopened bottles of medication.
- Implement control measures.
This is the most important component, and the goal is to quickly get to a point where control measures can be implemented. One thing that is often done is to improve hand washing protocol and practices.