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Infections possible in Atlanta hospitals

When we think of hospitals, a very sterile environment usually comes to mind. Doctors in masks, gloves and gowns are all in place for our protection. Sometimes, however, a hospital is not as clean as we would hope it would be. In a situation where an unclean environment results in illness or death, it is key for Atlanta residents and their families to understand their rights.

A recent study examined the cleanliness of endoscopes in the United States. An endoscope is a tool that is used during a colonoscopy procedure and examines the GI tract of the patient's colon. The study found that 15 percent of the five hospitals examined had endoscopes that contained "biodirt," which is material left behind from previous patients. These endoscopes were dirty even after they had been cleaned by the hospital.

The results of this study are particularly concerning when considering infections. Tens of millions of colonoscopies happen every year and many patients could be susceptible to unclean devices. Although infectious complications may be rare, the numbers are still concerning.

In cases where a hospital has a duty to a patient, they do not fulfill that duty and the patient is later injured, there is a cause of action for a medical malpractice claim. Although this link may be difficult to prove in the case above, if an individual can show that the hospital did not fulfill their duty to clean the equipment properly and they now have an infection because of their negligence, a claim would be possible. Hospitals and doctors must uphold the standard that is generally accepted in medical care.

Injured patients are able to hold negligent parties responsible in order to gain compensation to make them whole again. Injured patients and their families may seek compensation for missed time at work, pain and suffering, medical expenses and wrongful death.

Source: CNBC, "Dirty Endoscopes Raising Alarms for Colonoscopies," Dan Mangan, June 7, 2013

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