Given the concentration of illness present at many healthcare facilities, it’s important for them to take stringent measures to prevent the spread of disease such as COVID-19 and common hospital infections. If you fall seriously ill as a result of being treated at a hospital, you may have a case, though there are factors that could keep you from recovering damages.
Note that during the coronavirus pandemic in Illinois, any healthcare facility that provides care or assistance for those who have contracted COVID-19 has some immunity to liability, so if your illness dates to this time, you likely won’t be able to recover damages.
Cases Involving Medical Infections
Under normal circumstances, if you fall ill as the result of a healthcare professional’s neglectful actions, you may be able to recover damages incurred as a result of that illness. Those damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost time at work
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
Medical infections may occur in the event that a doctor or nurse fails to follow proper prevention measures. Some of the more common causes include failure to:
- Clean medical instruments
- Follow disinfecting and cleaning practices
- Wash hands with sufficient frequency
- Follow handling and disposal practices for items like needles, scalpels, and waste
A healthcare professional who fails to follow these and other measures could be held liable for your illness if you get sick while under their care.
Pursuing a Medical Infection Case
Assuming your healthcare provider doesn’t have liability immunity, you can pursue damages if your case meets these criteria:
- Your illness occurred as a result of your stay or treatment in a hospital
- The hospital staff failed to follow reasonable standards for preventing the spread of disease
- Your illness resulted from negligence on the part of the hospital’s staff
- The results of your illness are severe enough to warrant a lawsuit
Unfortunately, given the challenges in tracing the cause of any illness and proving liability, these cases can be highly challenging, even when you have sufficient evidence to back your claim.
In addition, your case needs to be worth pursuing. If it didn’t cause serious damages, then you likely won’t have a viable lawsuit.
However, in cases where you suffered serious damages as a result of a hospital infection and where you have sufficient evidence to support your claim, you’ll stand a better chance of recovering damages for your illness.
Immunity to Civil Liability
At the present time, Illinois hospitals providing care for coronavirus patients are immune to civil liability. That means that they often cannot be sued for damages incurred at this time, though the specifics that apply in each case do vary. In some instances, immunity may apply only to cases involving COVID-19 itself (including treatments, illness, and death), while other providers may have a broader scope of immunity.
This immunity does not apply in cases involving extreme negligence or willful misconduct.
If you have questions about whether you have a medical malpractice claim involving a hospital infection, contact an attorney for a consultation.