Hospital infection claims

Introduction

Updated: October 8, 2018

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

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

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Do I have a hospital infection claim?

If you developed an infection in hospital in the last three years (longer if children were involved) and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Making a risk free no win - no fee hospital infection claim

Typically a no win no fee agreement ( called a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) is agreed between a claimant and a suitably qualified lawyer.

The no win no fee agreement is the conditions under which the solicitor works for their client.

It sets out what the lawyer will do and how he or she is remunerated if your legal case is successful.

If you use our solicitors for your hospital infection compensation claim there are no hidden costs , no up-front fees and the comfort that you will not be out of pocket.

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How much compensation can I claim for a hospital infection?

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our medical negligence compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.

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Meet the team

The national network of Quittance solicitors help injured people with all types of clinical negligence claims, from more minor injury cases to life-changing injury. Chosen on the basis of their winning track record, our solicitors have years of experience.

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Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
 
Carol Cook Clinical Negligence Panel Solicitor
 
Lee Raynor Clinical Negligence Panel Solicitor
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

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