Hospital Infection Compensation Claims

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a hospital acquired infection we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a hospital acquired infection and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

In our guide to claiming hospital infection compensation:

Introduction

In recent years, there have been a number of outbreaks at UK hospitals of serious infections including MRSA, C. difficile and E. coli.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) estimate that, each year, around 300,000 patients are infected during their stay in hospital. If your infection occurred as a result of the negligence of the hospital or NHS trust, you may be able to claim compensation for clinical negligence.

Hospitals and hygiene

Hospitals are required to have very strict controls over hygiene. Most hospital acquired infections can be prevented or contained if simple procedures, such as washing hands thoroughly with soap and water, are followed by hospital staff.

Infections can spread if the correct hygiene procedures are not followed.

Following a series of serious breaches, a 'duty of candour' is now imposed on hospital staff to report negligence they witness, including failures to observe correct hygiene procedures.

How infection occurs

Most hospital acquired infections are usually transmitted by skin to skin contact with an infected person. A person becomes infected when the bacteria enter his or her body.

Hospital patients are particularly vulnerable to infection. There are three main reasons for this:

Firstly, a patient's immune system may be weaker than that of a healthy person. This increases the risk of an infection becoming symptomatic.

Secondly, patients may have open wounds, burns, sores or their skin may have been pierced in order to insert a catheter. This makes it easier for bacteria to enter the body.

Thirdly, a hospital is a busy environment in which people move freely from one part to another. This makes it easier for infectious bacteria to spread.

Common types of hospital acquired infection

MRSA

This is the best known of all hospital acquired infections. Its symptoms can vary depending on what part of the body is affected. It is possible for someone to carry the virus but not show any of its symptoms.

Some common symptoms include:

  • The appearance of one or more painful red spots on the skin;
  • Fever
  • Chills;
  • Dizziness and confusion;
  • Pain, tenderness and swelling in the affected part of the body; and
  • A general feeling of being unwell.

If not treated, MRSA can develop into cellulitis, an infection of the deeper layers of the skin. This causes the infected person's temperature to rise and their skin to turn red and become swollen and painful. It can also lead to the following serious conditions:

  • Sepsis (blood poisoning);
  • Urinary tract infection;
  • Osteomyelitis (inflammation of bone marrow); and
  • Septic arthritis.

C.difficile

C. difficile bacteria can survive for months on objects and surfaces. This makes it very dangerous. Although C. difficile is not particularly harmful to healthy people, it is much more threatening to people with a weakened immune system.

Common symptoms include the repeated passing of watery, foul-smelling diarrhoea and abdominal pains and cramping.

C. difficile can also cause an infected person's colon to become inflamed. This condition is known as colitis and its symptoms include:

  • Frequent bouts of diarrhoea;
  • Fever;
  • Dehydration; and
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss.

E. coli

This can be caused by eating undercooked food or unpasteurised milk. It can also be passed in some circumstances by skin to skin contact with an infected person.

Symptoms can include diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.

In severe cases, it can lead to haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a serious disease which can lead to kidney failure.

No win, no fee, no risk

Under a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay whatsoever if you do not winn your claim .

Our no win, no fee guarantee

If you have been injured and someone else was to blame (even partially), our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of claiming compensation for your hospital infection injury. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my hospital infection claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my hospital infection claim?

If your hospital infection claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees at all. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

How do personal injury solicitors get paid?

If your hospital infection claim is successful, the defendant, or their insurer, will pay the compensation and your solicitors fees.

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

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Hospital infection FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an early compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Author:
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor