Law Is Evolving To Meet The Modern Superbug Challenge
Hospitals are the crown jewels of modern healthcare, a place of respite where science does it’s wonders for the unwell. However, there are indications that hospitals may be unequipped to deal with the rising tide of drug-resistant infection, according to HuffPo Canada. While some bugs are simply part and parcel of modern treatment systems, some are undoubtedly down to negligence in medical facilities leading to poor hygiene. It’s here that the law steps in, and is rapidly evolving to aid affected families.
The state of affairs, and how hospitals impact this
Currently, it can be difficult for patients to establish clear medical negligence. This is the view of the Library of Congress in the USA, which outlaws a few key cases on their information page. However, it has been argued that the nature of superbugs are changing this dynamic as the simple act of uncleanliness gives rise to a number of superbugs, including MRSA, clostridium difficile and carbapenam-resistant enterobacteriaceae. Increasingly, hospitals need to show that their cleaning contracts and efforts are completely effective in order to avoid the proliferation of these bugs.
Precedent being set
To back up the theories suggesting that hospitals may be harbouring superbugs, an October 2018 study established that contamination rates of these bugs were high within Canadian medical facilities – despite deep cleaning. Continued occurrences of these bugs may lead to a negative inference being drawn in relation to hospitals; in the UK, precedent has been set by the 2010 case which saw £400,000 awarded out of court to one patient, according to the BBC.
Affairs in Canada
Currently, only 1.6% of litigated malpractice cases in Canada result in victory of the patient. This is despite misgivings in the system, according to CBC. However, there are signs that this may be shifting to meet the challenge of MRSA and related bugs. There have been several landmark cases where poorly controlled bugs, or undiagnosed superbugs, have led to disability, and settlements have arisen as a result. As a result, patients involved in superbug cases may find more avenues of redress than with alternative diagnoses.
Superbugs are a terrifying prospect for most patients, but hospitals have the ability to control them. Where this falls down is in negligence cases, where hygiene standards have dropped. As a patient, or family member, be vigilant as to the medical facilities you use and what your rights are.
Written for Verhaeghe Law Office by Cassandra Tilbury
*Please note the content of this blog offers a general overview and does not constitute legal advice as every case is unique from one another. We encourage you to seek independent legal advice for any matter that concerns you.