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Dirty Needles? Hospital Negligence?

A number of hospital and clinic patients around the country are developing MRSA infections linked to dirty needles. MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a staph infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Patients can develop MRSA infections when medical professionals reuse disposable single-use needles on multiple patients.

MRSA infections are just one potential risk associated with the reuse of needles of multiple patients. Other possible consequences of this type of medical negligence include transmitting serious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis and other STDs.

USA Today reports that more than 8,000 patients of one Colorado organ surgeon were told to get HIV and hepatitis tests after it was discovered that the surgeon reused syringes to inject his patients. At least six patients tested positive for diseases linked to the surgeon’s office.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent estimates that about 150,000 U.S. patients have suffered unsafe injection practices in the last 10 years with about two thirds of the risky shots being given in the past four years.

“It’s a huge issue. It makes us crazy,” said Michael Bell, the CDC’s associate director for infection control. “We’re trying to eliminate a range of harms in health care – high-level, complex challenges – and we look behind us and these basic, obvious, completely preventable problems are still occurring. It really comes down to a matter of greed, ignorance or laziness.”

Harm caused by reused needles is a classic basis for a medical malpractice claim. About 5 percent of clinics fail to use safe injection practices and patients may be able to file claims to recover damages for medical expenses, emotional distress, blood testing and other costs associated with being injected with a dirty syringe.