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Unsterilized equipment may lead to medical malpractice suits


The recent publicizing of a serious case of hospital negligence may remind Georgia residents of a similar situation that occurred only a few years in the past.

In 2011, around 500 patients at Emory University's hospital in Atlanta were notified that they may have been exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, also called CJD, is a rare neurological disorder that can take months or even years to develop and is fatal in those who contract it. In the wake of the notification, many individuals in Georgia were left wondering if they would develop the life-ending disorder, and some filed medical malpractice lawsuits against the medical facility.

Recently, another American hospital was required to notify patients that they may have been exposed to CJD when they received treatments on a piece of equipment that had not been properly sterilized after being used on a CJD-positive patient. Though contracting CJD through contact is extremely rare, it is possible when humans encounter infected spinal fluid or brain matter.

What on its surface may appear to be a simple cleaning error could end up being a fatal medical error for the patients affected in the Emory and recent out-of-state CJD scares. Even if none of the affected individuals develop the fatal disease, many will live in fear for many years and will struggle with wondering if one day they too will begin showing signs of the disorder.

Hospital negligence as described in these horrific cases of CJD exposure can ruin a person's life even if no medical disorders develop. Individuals who are struggling in the aftermath of a medical mistake or case of medical malpractice have rights to recover their damages and to seek compensation from those entities that caused their harm.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Hospital error may put patients at risk of incurable disease," Paresh Dave, Feb. 12, 2014

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