A national investigative report revealed disturbing new medical malpractice statistics last week. According to USA Today’s research, tens of thousands of Americans face potentially devastating consequences because doctors and other medical professionals improperly reuse contaminated needles.
Given the fact that disposable syringes have existed for decades, there is no excuse for a hospital’s failure to use them. This means that these facilities and doctors likely commit medical malpractice by reusing needles and single-use vials instead.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recorded more than 150,000 cases of needle reuse between 2001 and 2012. Surprisingly, two-thirds of those patients received contaminated injections in the last four years alone. These injections represent 49 disease outbreaks – some of which involved potentially fatal infections like hepatitis C or drug-resistant MRSA bacteria.
For example, one state contacted 63,000 patients in 2008. All of the patients had received treatment at related clinics. Medical professionals at those clinics were re-using single-use vials to treat multiple patients. As many as 115 victims contracted hepatitis C.
While the CDC knows that 150,000 cases occurred since 2001, experts believe that this is only a small portion of the total cases. Many patients may not realize that a doctor has violated injection safety rules and, as a result, the majority of infections probably go unreported.
This disturbing example shares many similarities with other types of medical malpractice. Some of the most common sources of medical malpractice cases involve sloppiness on the part of medical providers and a lack of proper training or education. In the words of the CDC’s associate director for infection control, “it really comes down to a matter of greed, ignorance or laziness.”
Anyone who believes he or she contracted a dangerous disease as the result of needle reuse should contact a national medical malpractice lawyer for assistance and advice.
Source: USA Today, “Dirty medical needles put tens of thousands at risk in USA,” Peter Eisler, Dec. 28, 2012