Imagine being admitted to the hospital for a procedure or treatment expecting to feel better when you leave, only to get sicker from an infection you acquired while hospitalized. You and other New York residents may be interested in learning about Legionnaires’ disease in healthcare settings.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Legionnaires’ disease is a serious form of pneumonia that is caused by the Legionella bacteria. This bacterium thrives in freshwater and can be especially dangerous if it is present in a building’s water system. In fact, healthcare-associated Legionnaires’ outbreaks are particularly concerning because many patients who visit the hospital are already compromised. You typically cannot contract Legionnaires’ disease from contact with other patients; rather, the bacterium is inhaled through tiny airborne water droplets. Those who are particularly at risk include cancer patients, the elderly, current or former smokers, those with chronic lung disease or patients with compromised immune systems.
The bacterium can be spread through a building’s water system through sinks, drinking fountains, showers, plumbing systems and hot water tanks. As you can see, once a healthcare facility is contaminated, it can be easy for the illness to spread. Hospital management would need to take immediate action to warn patients and their families about a suspected outbreak and to eliminate the bacteria from the water system.
You may wish to consider compensation if you or a family member were impacted by a healthcare-associated illness or infection. This information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.