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Maryland Hospital Infection Lawsuits

infection

There is increased media attention on infections in hospitals. Infections have been a problem in hospitals since the first hospital opened in the Middle Ages. Today, medical mistake claims often arise not directly from the medical treatment the patient receives but because an infection developed either in the course of treatment or from some other cause.

The severity of the infection problem is stunning. The CDC says that hospital infections kill 90,000 people annually. Infections result in an estimated 205,000 additional hospital days for infected patients and $2 billion in hospital charges. 

Of course, hospital infections are just part of the problem. There are more than 270,000 fatalities every year in this country from sepsis alone. These numbers just roll off. But stop and think about it for a second. They are mind-boggling.

Who is most at risk? The elderly, small children, and people with compromised immune systems are at the greatest risk of severe injury or death.

Some hospital infections are not the result of negligence. But studies show too many hospital-acquired infections are from medical errors.  Our hospital infection attorneys in Maryland handle these cases when medical malpractice causes the infection or, as is more common, fails to prevent the infection from growing. 

What Happens to the Body During an Infection?

When the body gets an infection, it does what the body does well: it fights. Chemicals are released to ward off the infection. The problem is that this causes systemic inflammation that can cause small blood clots, blocking oxygen and critical nutrients from reaching key organs in the body. 

The infection can then lead to septic shock. As sepsis worsens and further develops into septic shock, blood pressure significantly decreases, which often leads to respiratory, heart, and other organ failures that can lead to death. A corollary risk is gangrene that can lead to amputation of the arms, fingers, legs, feet, and other appendages.

The key to surviving a severe infection, and stopping the disease in its tracks before it can cause this kind of damage, is early diagnosis and treatment.

What Type of Infection Cases Lead to Lawsuitsinfection malpractice

Hospitals and other health care providers negligently cause infections in massive numbers. This is not plaintiffs' attorneys' propaganda. It is demonstrably true. Hospitals have widely varying rates of infection. 

Why? Because some hospitals have fail-safe procedures that lead to a very low rate of infection and others do not. The infections are caused by negligence, often from the failure to follow proper sterilization procedures such as failure to properly hand wash, an unclean hospital, or improper sterilization for patients who receive catheters or are put on ventilators.

Still, "the hospital infected me" cases are a minority of successful infection lawsuits our hospital infection lawyers in Maryland see.  Why? Because how an infection was caused and whether it could have been prevented are tough for plaintiffs to prove. The most commonly successful lawsuit involving infections our hospital infection malpractice lawyers see is the failure to diagnose promptly and treat the infection, not the fact that the patient was infected in the first place.

Certainly, there are a lot of medical malpractice cases involving infection of the newborns. This is because so much is at stake in the early minutes, hours, and days of life. Injuries we adults can shake off can cause lifelong injuries or death to infants. If the infection in an infant is not correctly diagnosed and treated, bacteria can attack the body and cause a host of problems. The greatest risk involves ailments that lead to a lack of blood and oxygen.

These infections can begin even before the child is born. Neonatal sepsis can stem from water breaking (usually when it lasts longer than 24 hours before birth), membranes, or amniotic sac water bag, necrotizing enterocolitis, Group B streptococcus infection, and a whole host of other things. 

You can find the answers to these things with a blood culture, C-reactive protein, or complete blood count (CBC). The bottom line is that an infant -- particularly premature babies - is particularly susceptible to sepsis and other infections. So immediate diagnosis and treatment are critical.

Where Hospital Infection Mistakes Happen

Most hospital infection lawsuits in Maryland are not based on causing the infections but the failure to treat the problem correctly. Infections and fevers of unknown origin are common emergency room diagnostic problems. The following are common infection cases that are misdiagnosed in the ER that leads to medical negligence suits:

Hospital Infection Settlements and Verdicts
  • 2020, Pennsylvania: $1 Million Settlement: A 73-year-old man’s prosthetic knee joint became infected. He presented to the hospital. The man died from septic shock 10 hours later. His family alleged that the hospital staff’s negligence caused his death. They claimed they failed to timely diagnose an infection, administer antibiotics, perform a joint aspiration, and diagnose sepsis. This case settled for $1 million.  
  • 2019, Florida: $15 Million Verdict: A 44-year-old woman suffered an asthma attack. She was admitted to Hialeah Hospital. The woman was transferred to the ICU the following day. Her nasal swab tested negative for an infection. The woman was transferred to another part of the hospital. She received nebulizers and steroids. One week later, the woman suffered chest pain, left flank pain, shortness of breath, and abnormal vital signs. An inexperienced house physician suspected a heart attack. He ordered diagnostic tests and an ICU transfer. The woman experienced another respiratory episode hours later. She underwent ventilation. The woman died from MRSA pneumonia two days later. The woman’s family alleged that the house physician’s failure to timely diagnose MRSA caused her death. A jury awarded them $15 million.  
  • 2018, Ohio: $24.7 Million Verdict: A boy suffered an ear infection. He was brought to the emergency room. The boy suffered mastoiditis, meningitis, and cerebral edema. He developed permanent hearing loss, muscle atrophy, cognitive impairments, and incontinence. The boy required lifelong care. His family hires a hospital infection attorney who filed a lawsuit alleging the hospital staff’s failure to timely diagnose and treat his ear infection caused permanent injuries. The defense denied the allegation. A jury awarded the family $24.7 million.   
  • 2017, Oregon: $1.5 Million Verdict: An 18-year-old member of the University of Oregon’s acrobatics and tumbling team suffered cold-like symptoms. She experienced a fever, shaking, chills, and lower back spasms. At the time, UO’s campus experienced a meningococcal disease outbreak. The woman presented to Sacred Heart Medical Center’s emergency room. She had a negative flu test. The woman was diagnosed with a flu-like illness. She received acetaminophen and ibuprofen. The woman was discharged to her dorm. She died from meningitis later that day. The woman’s mother alleged that the Sacred Heart Medical Center staff’s failure to timely diagnose and treat meningococcal disease caused her death. A jury awarded her $1.5 Million.   
  • 2016, Oklahoma: $858,349 Verdict: A 63-year-old woman suffered from a urinary tract infection. She tested positive for E. coli. The woman was prescribed antibiotics. Her condition failed to resolve. The woman was admitted to a federally funded hospital. She underwent an abdominal CT scan. It revealed abnormal results. However, the hospital staff discharged her without performing additional tests. The woman was readmitted two days later. She suffered diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. The woman was transferred to a public hospital. An examination revealed an infected colon. The woman underwent a colostomy. Her condition worsened. She died from respiratory failure less than a week later. The woman’s family alleged that the federal hospital’s negligence caused her death. They claimed they failed to diagnose C. diff, timely consult a surgeon, order additional testing, and timely transfer her to the public hospital. The federal government disputed the claims. It argued that the hospital staff provided appropriate care. The federal jury ruled in the family’s favor. They awarded $858,349.  
  • 2016, Oklahoma: $858,349 Verdict: A 63-year-old woman suffered from a urinary tract infection. She tested positive for E. coli. The woman was prescribed antibiotics. Her condition failed to resolve. The woman was admitted to a federally funded hospital. She underwent an abdominal CT scan. It revealed abnormal results. However, the hospital staff discharged her without performing additional tests. The woman was readmitted two days later. She suffered diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. The woman was transferred to a public hospital. An examination revealed an infected colon. The woman underwent a colostomy. Her condition worsened. She died from respiratory failure less than a week later. The woman’s family alleged that the federal hospital’s negligence caused her death. They claimed they failed to diagnose C. diff, timely consult a surgeon, order additional testing, and timely transfer her to the public hospital. The federal government disputed the claims. It argued that the hospital staff provided appropriate care. The federal jury ruled in the family’s favor. They awarded $858,349.  
  • 2014, Wisconsin: $25.3 Million. A 53-year-old mother of four children lost all of her limbs because a Strep A infection was misdiagnosed. The infection led to septic shock. Damage caused by the infection led to the amputations. The woman was hospitalized for nine hours with severe abdominal pain and fever but was discharged and told to call her gynecologist because they suspected a problem with her fibroid. The jury awarded $15 million in pain and suffering.
  • 2013, Maryland: $1,341,000 Verdict: A 77-year-old woman was transported to Frederick Memorial Hospital after she injured her back in a fall. A CT scan was ordered, and the radiologist determined findings of a fracture of at least one vertebrae. During her hospitalization, she began to experience a loss of all feeling in her lower extremities. She was transferred to the University of Maryland Medical Center for spinal fusion surgery. She developed a staph infection at the surgical site and passed away three months later from complications from the infection. Her daughter sued the treating physician and radiologist at Frederick Memorial Hospital for medical malpractice. Plaintiff alleged the radiologist failed to report the findings and did not recommend the decedent remain immobilized during her hospitalization. The radiologist claimed that the results had been reported to the decedent. Defendant physician claimed that, regardless of the decedent not being immobilized, the surgery would have happened and that a post-operative infection could result from any surgery. A Frederick County jury found Defendant radiologist 100% responsible and awarded the Plaintiff $1,341,000 in damages.
  • 2013, California: $543,034 Verdict: A 64-year-old baker underwent a right knee arthroscopy at Coastal Surgical Institute. Three days later, he returned with complaints of fever and severe pain. Shortly after that he went to the emergency room at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center where he underwent additional surgery and antibiotic treatment for a Pseudomonas aeruginosin bacterial infection. He eventually required a total knee replacement, and one year later, the hardware in the knee had to be replaced. Regrettably, he can no longer walk long distances unassisted. He filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Coastal Surgical claiming the Defendant used unclean surgical instruments. Plaintiff claimed that he contracted an infection from an improperly sterilized arthroscope and - this is key - that three other patients who received treatment during the same time frame contracted the same infection. Defendant denied liability, alleging that the contamination must have been from the sponges used to clean the surgical instruments. A San Luis jury found the Defendant negligent and awarded the Plaintiff $543,034 in damages.
  • 2013, Maryland: $9,500,000 Verdict: Parents of a 2-week old daughter were concerned after they had noticed she had missed several feedings and appeared to be short of breath. They brought her to the emergency room at Laurel Regional Hospital where blood tests were conducted, and an on-call pediatrician was consulted. Before obtaining the blood test results, the infant was discharged, and the parents were advised to follow up with their pediatrician. Over 24 hours had passed before the parents were notified that the test results showed Group B streptococcus. Treatment began immediately, but unfortunately, the infant developed meningitis. She suffered irreparable brain damage resulting in cerebral palsy. Her parents sued the employer of the emergency room doctor, Maryland Provo-I Medical Services, and a hospital employee for medical malpractice. Plaintiffs claimed that the defendant failed to inform timely the infant’s parents of their child’s diagnosis and failed to treat timely and diagnose the infection. Defendants denied liability, claiming that all care was reasonable and appropriately executed. The arguments were presented to a Prince George’s County jury where they found for the Plaintiff for $9,500,000. The award was reduced to $7,150,000 due to Maryland's cap of $650,000 for non-economic damages.
  • 2011, New York: $3,250,000 Verdict: A 47-year-old secretary visited the emergency room of St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center with complaints of diarrhea and pain in her abdomen. She was referred to a surgeon who found that she was suffering from an abscess in her pelvic region. Removal of her sigmoid colon was recommended. A week following her surgery, an infection on her surgical site was diagnosed, and she was given antibiotics. She was referred to another surgeon at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center. The second surgeon obtained a culture of the infected area and reported a finding of a staph infection. For the following four months, the infection worsened and required at least three surgeries, on top of extensive treatment. The woman sued both surgeons for medical malpractice. Plaintiff alleged the Defendant Surgeon 1 failed to adequately perform the surgery on her colon. She alleged Defendant Surgeon 2 did not adequately address the infection by choosing not to prescribe antibiotics. Plaintiff’s counsel claimed the wound should have been drained and an infectious-diseases specialist should have been consulted. A Suffolk jury found the Defendants departed from the standard of care and awarded the Plaintiff $3,250,000 in damages.
  • 2010, New York: $ 500,000 Verdict: A 61-year-old woman underwent multiple procedures to repair a bunion and hammertoes on her right foot. Two weeks after the surgery, she visited a podiatrist for a postoperative visit. During her visit, her foot was noted for being swollen and red with discharge. She was prescribed an antibiotic. She returned the following week with yellow discharge and blisters along the suture on her foot. A culture was performed. The wound was diagnosed as having been infected, and she was prescribed a different antibiotic. Two weeks later, as her symptoms worsened to discoloration and raised skin temperature, she was referred to Huntington Hospital. She was diagnosed with osteomyelitis and underwent surgery to clean out the necrotic bone. She sued the podiatrist who performed her initial surgery as well as the podiatrist who conducted her postoperative consults. Plaintiff claimed the Defendants failed to perform appropriate tests to rule out infection. Plaintiff’s expert podiatrist testified that a culture should have been performed which would have indicated infection. Defendants argued that Plaintiff’s symptoms were not caused by infection but by her banging her foot. A Nassau jury found the podiatrist conducting the postoperative visits 100% liable and awarded the Plaintiff $500,000.

These are sample settlements and verdicts that were favorable to plaintiffs. These are the winners. We stepped over some defense verdicts in putting this list together.

These verdicts should be a tool in understanding the value of these cases. But you cannot use these results to predict the settlement or trial value of any individual case. It would be an easier world if we could just grab a prior result and say the case is a sure winner and worth X. But the real world is much more complicated.

Staph Infections

Many staph infections can also occur outside of a hospital setting. The challenge for doctors is to differentiate between MRSA and a more routine staph infection because detection of a MRSA staph infection is not possible based on physical examination alone.

Hiring a Lawyer for Your Maryland Infection Claim

We handle hospital malpractice cases, including those involving infections. If you have been injured as the result of medical or hospital malpractice or negligence, call us at 800-553-8082 or get a free consultation.

Other Hospital Infection Resources for Malpractice Lawyers and VictimsGeneral Medical Malpractice Information
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They quite literally worked as hard as if not harder than the doctors to save our lives. Terry Waldron
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Ron helped me find a clear path that ended with my foot healing and a settlement that was much more than I hope for. Aaron Johnson
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Hopefully I won't need it again but if I do, I have definitely found my lawyer for life and I would definitely recommend this office to anyone! Bridget Stevens
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The last case I referred to them settled for $1.2 million. John Selinger
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I am so grateful that I was lucky to pick Miller & Zois. Maggie Lauer
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The entire team from the intake Samantha to the lawyer himself (Ron Miller) has been really approachable. Suzette Allen
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The case settled and I got a lot more money than I expected. Ron even fought to reduce how much I owed in medical bills so I could get an even larger settlement. Nchedo Idahosa