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Infections from healthcare leading to lawsuits and fines

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

A prestigious American hospital and its linen supplier have just settled a long-fought lawsuit. The suit stemmed from the deaths of several patients during a 2014-2015 breakout of mold at its facilities.

The suits, brought by families of deceased organ transplant and cancer patients, claimed fungal infections brought on by the supplier’s linens caused their loved ones’ deaths.

Dirty linen cause families grief and ma

The hospital, widely considered the best in Pennsylvania, is among the 20 best in America. It temporarily closed its unit for heart, lung, other cardiothoracic conditions after the deaths of patients. The deaths came amid an outbreak of fungus in the prestigious unit and a federal investigation

The lawsuits, finally settled this February, alleged the hospital committed medical malpractice and negligence and was responsible for wrongful deaths. Neither the families, hospital, linen company nor their representatives would discuss details of the settlement, which is under seal.

However, lawsuits in connection with two other patients who died in 2014 and 2015 after heart transplants previously resulted in two settlements together totaling $2.7 million.

Institute annually warns infections are a top concern

The ECRI Institute creates an annual list of the Top 10 Health Technology Hazards that need the most attention now.

The institute is an important provider of research on medical products and practices to governments, industry and non-profits around the world. Its stated mission is to drive up safety and drive down costs in medicine.

Their annual list represents “problems that can be avoided or risks that can be minimized through the careful management of technologies.”

In the four most recent years, at least seven issues directly involving infection risks have made the institute’s Top 10 lists. They include mattresses still oozing with bodily fluids from previous patients, improper handling of endoscopes and other medical devices.

Medicare penalizes high-infection hospitals

Annually for the last half-a-dozen years, hospitals with high rates of patient injuries and infections had their payments reduced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The hundreds of providers on the annual list highlight the widespread problem of preventable, healthcare-associated injuries and infections.

For this year’s list of facilities, the program penalized 786 hospitals for high rates of “Hospital-Acquired Conditions” such as infections, blood clots, sepsis, bedsores and hip fractures.

Medicare reduces its payments to facilities on its list by 1% for one year. Since the program began, the program listed 1,865 of the 5,276 hospitals in the country once or more, with sixteen appearing on the list every year.