Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Medical Scope Superbugs

Thousands of Deaths from Hospital Superbugs Are Going Unreported

The LA Times reports that “many thousands” of patients are dying every year from superbug infections acquired during hospital stays — and that’s only in California. The numbers nationwide would be even higher, perhaps horrifyingly so. And the biggest reason this hideous epidemic remains mostly secret is that patient death certificates almost never include any mention of the infections as a factor in the deaths.

Despite outcries from families, many doctors show a determinative bias against blaming hospital-acquired infections in deaths those infections cause, clinging instead to an insistence on only listing the conditions that led such patients to a hospital stay in the first place — even when those presenting conditions were themselves non-lethal. “Had the patient not had [the presenting condition] they wouldn’t have been in the hospital in the first place.” This seems disingenuous at best, and — clearly — critically misleading in the larger view. As the Times notes, “An epidemic of hospital-acquired infections is going unreported, scientists have found.”

“[I]nfections…would replace heart disease and cancer as the leading causes of death in hospitals if the count was performed by looking at patients’ medical billing records, which show what they were being treated for, rather than death certificates.”

Worse, and despite their notoriety in the media and entertainment, California doesn’t even track deaths from hospital-acquired infections, nor does the state require hospitals to report that individual patients have been sickened by the lethal superbugs. As the LA Times observes, this raises significant questions about whether those responsible for public health are doing enough to stop the deadly spread of these infections.

Infection cases gathered between 2010 to 2012 showed that Los Angeles County was ‘a high-prevalence region’ for the superbug, county officials said.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimate as many as 75,000 Americans with hospital-acquired infections die during their hospitalizations each year, experts note the numbers could be significantly higher. With about 10% of the nation’s hospital care, this means a minimum of 7,500 Californians are dying every year from infections from hospital-acquired germs. And as the Times further notes, some studies, including a 2010 survey published by the CDC, indicates that as many as 49% of residents in some areas had knowingly reported an inaccurate cause on a patient death certificate.

Read the full story on the LA Times website.

Contact a Lieff Cabraser Personal Injury Attorney

Lieff Cabraser has successfully represented thousands of patients across America injured by defective and dangerous medical devices. We currently represent patients who developed “Superbug” CRE infections after undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), as well as the families of patients who died as a result of such infections.

If you or a family member developed CRE following an endoscopic procedure, please contact an experienced injury lawyer at Lieff Cabraser to discuss your case. You can also call us toll-free at 1 800 541-7358 and ask to speak to injury attorney Lexi Hazam or Wendy Fleishman. There is no charge or obligation for our review, and your information will be held in the strictest confidence.