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Unsanitary practices put patients at risk of medical malpractice

When clinicians fail to follow sanitary procedures, they may place the health of their patients at risk. Some cases of patient injury may alarm residents of South Carolina, but knowledge of these types of hospital neglect can help in the identification of cases of medical malpractice. According to a team leader at the CDC Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, cases of infectious disease spread through unsafe injection practices are not as uncommon as once thought.

A 2001 case involved a nurse clinician who participated in the administration of chemotherapy for cancer patients. When a physician undergoing treatment for breast cancer was diagnosed with Hepatitis C virus infection, a CDC investigation uncovered a total of 99 infections among patients. A nurse had been using the same syringe between patients to draw fluid from a common IV bag. Another HCV outbreak in 2008 involved reuse of a contaminated syringe along with multiple uses of a single-use vial.

Standard injections are not the only source of risk for patient injury. Almost 5,000 patients faced potential infection with HIV, HCV and Hepatitis B due to reuse of insulin pens by the staff of one hospital. Surveys of health care workers and hospitals show a widespread problem of unsafe injection practices. Experts think that the problem is due to both lack of clinician education on the topic and the failure of some hospitals to implement safe injection protocols.

A simple oversight or failure to follow safe procedures by hospital staff can cause dangerous infection, permanent disability and death. Survivors of such acts of negligence may face ongoing medical expenses for treatment of a worsened condition, the costs of long-term care and unwanted lifestyle changes. An attorney may be able to help survivors and families recover compensation for these and other damages.

Source: Anesthesiology News, "Unsafe Injection Practices Remain All Too Common", David Wild, July 18, 2013

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