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Superbug at UCLA Hospital Kills Two Patients, Infects Five Others

By Robert Kahn on February 20, 2015 - Comments off

The public research university reported on February 18 that approximately 180 patients were exposed to a potentially fatal “superbug” due to contaminated instruments that killed two patients and infected five others.

Los Angeles, CA – At the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, a total of 179 patients were exposed to a form of Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) that is resistant to both antibiotics and carbapenem, making it especially dangerous. The bacteria may have been transmitted through specialized medical devices used in procedures between October and January. The outbreak was just discovered late January while tests were being conducted on an infected patient.
The bacteria can cause infections of the bladder or lungs. Symptoms include uncontrollable coughing, fever, or chills. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly every state in the U.S. has been reporting infections, barring Alaska, Idaho, and Maine. On February 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an advisory warning doctors to thoroughly sterilize their instruments according to manufacturer instructions in order to stifle the further spread of this bacteria.

Hospitals Are Responsible for Their Patients’ Safety

Hospitals are potential hotbeds of disease that require great care from staff and administration to prevent the spread of infections and illnesses. When an outbreak takes place in a hospital, such as is the case here, it can usually be traced to negligence on the part of the hospital. Such negligence can have harmful, even deadly, repercussions; and patients who expect treatment and recovery may end up worse than they were before.
Unfortunately, mistakes like this happen all too often in hospitals not just in California, but all across the nation. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. – only heart disease and cancer come out ahead. Only three years ago, more than $3 billion was spent in malpractice lawsuit payouts. Clearly, medical malpractice is a huge issue that should be addressed and resolved, sooner rather than later.

Comment By Legal Expert Robert A. Kahn

Infection is a known risk of any procedure. If the doctor or hospital instituted and followed proper procedures for sterilizing the medical devices after each use, they may not be found responsible for these deaths and illnesses.

However, if proper procedures were not established, or followed, then the doctor or hospital can be held responsible for these injuries.

Furthermore, the manufacturer of the medical devices may also be held responsible if the design of the medical device made it impossible for it to be completely sterilized, or failed explain how to properly sterilize, or to warn of the consequences of improper sterilization.
Any lawsuit that may arise out of this unfortunate outbreak will require extensive work investigating UCLA’s prior knowledge of this problem, its written procedures for sterilizing medical devices, and whether those procedures were actually followed.

Defending Victims of Medical Malpractice in Los Angeles

For 35 years, Attorney Robert A. Kahn at the personal injury law firm of Kahn Roven has helped victims of medical malpractice obtain the compensation they need and deserve. Mr. Kahn and his partner Jonathan D. Roven are renowned in the community and among their legal peers because they engage fully with their clients, prioritize their goals, and implement effective legal strategies to achieve optimal case outcomes. Kahn Roven has a proven track record of success.


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