Who Is Liable When Patients Are Infected With Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria?

Multiple cases of infection with CRE, a group of bacteria that are highly resistant to antibiotics, has led to several deaths. These germs are rarely found outside of medical facilities, because that is where they develop their antibiotic resistance.. Antibiotics are used continuously in hospitals and other medical care centers, allowing these "superbugs" to gradually adapt until even the strongest antibiotics are barely effective.

Because this exposure happens in medical facilities, the assumption of sole liability is naturally directed at these medical providers. Improper cleaning and disinfecting of medical equipment is the usual cause of the spread of CRE and other less serious bacterial infections. However, in some cases, liability may also be directed at equipment manufacturers.

Duodenoscope design flaws and the spread of CRE

Recent deaths of patients that were exposed to CRE has led the FDA to issue safety alerts concerning design flaws in duodenoscopes that may impede proper cleaning and disinfecting, leaving patients exposed to CDE such as E-Coli and other deadly bacteria.

Duodenoscopes are used to treat illnesses that require access to the small intestine. They are flexible tubes, similar to the endoscopes that are used for colonoscopies, and can be used to drain fluids, take samples for biopsies to test for cancer, and perform treatment related activities. Duodenoscopes differ from endoscopes in that they possess a modification that allows accessories greater mobility.

This "elevator" modification that is built into the tip of the equipment makes it a more effective instrument, but at a substantial cost. It denies access to parts of the instrument that need to be cleaned and disinfected. Because this flaw is not readily observable by medical staff, these small inaccessible areas are not cleaned and disinfected, resulting in bacteria being left behind. Every patient that is treated by the infected instrument is then exposed to these deadly bacteria.

How will victims of CRE infection be compensated?

An experienced personal injury attorney (such as one from Marcus & Mack) will use these facts to seek compensation for the victims and their families, not only from the medical facilities that exposed the victims to the life threatening bacteria, but also from the manufacturers of these defective products. Personal injury lawyers will consult with both medical and product design experts to determine the best course of action to take in cases such as these where liability is not singular and clear. Although it may take a long legal battle to determine liability, a personal injury lawyer will use all the weapons in their arsenal to ensure fair and just compensation for their clients.