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The infection injury attorneys at the Drug Law Center are reviewing and accepting cases from clients who suffered injuries caused by preventable superbugs.
What are Superbugs?
Superbug is a term that describes hearty strains of bacteria that are highly resistant to most antibiotics available today. Doctors typically referred to the resilient strains as “multi-drug-resistant bacteria.” That is because the bacterium is not resistant to every strain of antibiotic but one that usually requires two or more less-commonly used antibiotics to kill. The development of superbugs is thought to have occurred because of the overuse of antibiotics, especially in the United States.
Statistics by this CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reveals that each year, approximately two million individuals in the U.S. become sick by superbugs and approximately 25,000 die from infection. In 2015, an outbreak of carbapenem-resistant enterobateriaceae (CRE) in a Los Angeles area hospital contaminated medical equipment that caused eleven individuals to become sick. Out of the more than 200 individuals that were likely exposed to the highly contagious bacteria two succumbed to their infection-related illness.
Because antibiotic uses the foundation of keeping the public healthy, especially in hospital settings, the dangers involved in superbugs should be of a high concerned every individual. Birthing mothers, and those undergoing organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy, and surgical procedures typically rely on the use of taking effective antibiotics to ensure that life-threatening infections are prevented.
How Superbugs Emerge
Specific human actions and behaviors may be responsible for accelerating the emergence, pace and spread of the bacteria that is highly resistant to most antibiotics including:
- Routine use or misuse of antibiotics
- Habitually poor control practices
- Ineffective infection prevention programs
- Mishandling food products
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Unsanitary working conditions
To avoid contacting deadly bacteria, it is essential to wash hands often using water and soap or some type of alcohol-based sanitizing solution. To minimize the potential risk of developing a serious infection, it is essential to maintain healthy lifestyle habits. This includes proper food handling, consuming a healthy diet, routine exercise, and developing healthy sleep patterns. In addition, it is important to throw away leftover antibiotic prescription medications to avoid misuse in the future and never share an antibiotic prescription with others.
To be the most effective and provide the best healthy benefits, antibiotic drugs should be taken for the full treatment course even if the individual starts feeling much better. Stopping the medication prematurely could allow the highly resistant strain of bacteria to survive to spread throughout the body and to other humans. Individuals prescribed antibiotics should take the medication as directed and only to treat the problem that was diagnosed by the doctor.
Five Major Superbugs
There are five highly resistant bacteria strains that cause an urgent threat to any individual who has acquired the infection. These include:
- Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobateriaceae (CRE) – There are many forms of CRE, including E. coli, some which live in human guts. All are highly resistant to known antibiotics. Nearly all cases are quite in nursing homes and medical care facilities because the highly resistant bacteria are difficult to remove from medical equipment and tools used in the body including viewing scopes, breathing tubes, and catheters. Approximately one out of every two patients suffering from CRE will die from the infection because there are no highly effective treatments to cure the life-threatening blood contagion.
- Neisseria Gonorrhoeae – A sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea is a strain of this bacteria that is often transferred through vaginal, anal, or oral contact. Pregnant mothers can pass the infection to the newborn during the delivery phase of child birthing. Even though the strain is rarely life-threatening, hundreds of thousands of individuals acquire gonorrhea every year, many without displaying any symptoms.This means one sexual partner can spread it to another without ever knowing it. Doctors treat gonorrhea using antibiotics. However, some are becoming significantly more resistant than ever before. Without proper treatment, gonorrhea can easily cause infertility in both women and men, while increasing the potential risk for developing other STDs and HIV.
- Clostridium Difficile (C. diff) – The strain of bacteria typically resides in the intestines and does not cause harm until it overgrows in size and triggers serious issues. Most individuals who acquire Clostridium difficile infections are receiving medical care at a facility including a hospital, medical center, or nursing home. While antibiotics are usually effective at killing a Clostridium difficile infection, it also kills good bacteria that is required for a healthy digestive tract.Without proper treatment, the strain of bacteria can cause a significant life-threatening case of diarrhea so severe that it claims the lives of proximally 14,000 individuals every year. Seriously infected patients usually need to have a portion of their intestines removed. The strain of bacteria is highly contagious especially in non-sterile bathrooms, clothing or linen and can be passed between individuals. Doctors have often prescribed fluoroquinolone antibiotics to treat Clostridium difficile. However, these medications are not always effective because the bacteria have become highly resistant in recent years due to the overuse of antibiotics.
- Multi-drug-resistant Acinetobacter – While the strain of bacteria can be found in water and soil, it has the potential of making the individual very sick, especially the superbugs strain of the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii. Individuals who come in contact with the bacteria strain outside the hospital usually never suffer harm from the dangerous bug. Usually, illness is acquired in the hospital setting, especially in individuals who require a breathing.The medical community labels this type of hospital Germans being significant because it is thought about developing resistance against the antibody at a quicker pace than other bacteria. Those at greatest risk tend to develop urinary tract infections, brain infections, and lung infections. Approximately 12,000 infections occur in hospitals each year. Nearly all are resistant to use of multiple antibiotics. Because of that, scientists have labeled this superbugs strain as a survivor because of the protective shield of forms against the treatment medication.
- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) – This strain of “staph” bacteria is completely resistant to penicillin, making it easy to spread between humans. Most individuals acquire this infection in the hospital or another medical setting, typically after undergoing a surgical procedure. The dangerous contagious bacteria can infect wounds and spread to the bloodstream and surrounding tissue.
In recent years, hearty strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus have been found outside of medical settings including in schools where athletes have been involved in MRSA outbreaks. Skin-to-skin contact is a serious problem for individuals around the bacteria, especially those who have a cut in their skin. The deadly bacteria can cause life-threatening blood and lung infections.
Contagious infections inside a medical facility can be prevented if the nursing staff and medical team follow established procedures and protocols. Because of that, patients who have suffered a life-threatening superbug infection or their surviving family members will file a medical malpractice, wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit against every party who caused them harm. Current superbug lawsuits found in the news include:
- Automated Endoscope Reprocessed Being Recalled from the Medical Marketplace over ContaminationNovember 2015 – The Food and Drug Administration is ordering Custom Ultrasonics to recall approximately 3000 AERs (automated endoscope reprocessors). The FDA has concerns that the medical devices are transmitting infections between patients and procedures. Through a released Safety Communication, the FDA has urged hospitals, medical centers, and other healthcare facilities to choose other options, methods, and procedures to reprocess the medical equipment.
- New York Patient Diagnosed with Superbug GeneJune 2016 – The American Agents and Chemotherapy Journal published an article revealing the second case of deadly E. coli bacteria found in a second person in the United States, this time in New York Citi. The deadly bacteria gene was diagnosed in a sample provided by the patient.
- 76-Year-Old Western Pennsylvania Woman Infected by Superbug GeneFebruary 2015 – A Western Pennsylvania elderly woman was diagnosed with an antibiotic-resistant superbug. The infection was acquired after she underwent a procedure using the Olympus-made duo duodenoscope to examine her small intestine. The woman claims that the bacteria was transferred through the device from a patient who had previously undergone the same procedure.The filed complaint in her lawsuit accuses the device manufacturer of their failure to provide adequate cleaning protocols after the Q180V endoscope was redesigned in 2014. The lawsuit documents reveal that “any patient underwent a medical procedure with the contaminated scope was exposed to serious health risks, including severe infection and death.”
- Washington State Resident Files a Lawsuit against Duodenoscope Manufacturer2015 – A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Olympus, the manufacturer of the most popular duodenoscope used in America alleging the death of a patient was caused by unsafe cleaning practices. The plaintiff’s husband was one of 11 individuals who lost their life through E. coli when the antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread through the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. Lawsuit documents revealed that the hospital is also a defendant in the case. However, the medical center was on the plaintiff side in the case in said: “it is likely Olympus had known for years that the devices could spread bacteria, but the firm never informed [the hospital] or other hospitals.”
- FDA Requires New Cleaning Protocols for Medical ScopesMarch 2016 – The Food and Drug Administration released a notification announcing new sanitizing protocols will be used in medical scopes thought to be spreading CRE superbugs between patients. The federal agency has issued new guidelines to manufacturers of these medical devices to reduce the potential risk of developing infections.
- Lutheran General Patient Dies after Contracting CRE SuperbugJune 2016 – Surviving family members of a loved one who died from the superbug after receiving treatment at the Park Ridge Advocate Lutheran General Hospital have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility. The legal action was filed more than a year after the July 2014 death of a woman who became extremely ill and succumbed to her injuries after undergoing a duodenoscope procedure.
Can I File a Lawsuit?
The superbug injury attorneys at the Drug Law Center are currently evaluating and accepting cases involving patients who suffered serious harm after acquiring a life-threatening infection that could have been prevented. Our lawyers understand that any patient who acquired an antibiotic resistant infection following a surgical procedure, hospital stay, or living in a nursing facility might be eligible to seek financial compensation for their injuries. Because of that, our team of lawyers remains devoted to providing the highest level of legal representation, advice, and counsel to our injured clients.
If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one after acquiring a superbug, we can provide immediate legal services and postpone accepting payment of our fees until after we successfully resolve your case. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary, case evaluation to discuss your legal options on how to file a compensation claim or lawsuit against those who caused you harm.