February 1, 2012

A hospital stay can be scary, but we go through with it anyway. We want to get better. No matter how many stories we hear, we do not expect to leave the hospital worse off than when we came in; neither do we expect to pick up a potentially fatal disease or infection during a hospital stay. This, however, is what a patient claims happened to him and three other patients in the newly constructed section of a hospital.

The patient claims he was one of four patients to contract Legionnaire’s disease at the new facility. The hospital, which is located outside of Oregon, had recently completed a construction project that included both patient facilities and a new water tower. In his complaint, the patient says the hospital and its building contractors failed to flush the water systems properly and that failure led to the outbreak.

Legionnaire’s disease is a potentially fatal kind of pneumonia. According to the Oregon Health Authority, the disease strikes when contaminated water becomes aerosolized and is inhaled and when contaminated water comes into contact with surgical wounds. Legionnaire’s disease is not contagious the way the flu is; you cannot get if from someone else.

The patient alleges that the new construction either disrupted existing colonies of the bacteria or created favorable conditions for the bacteria to grow. If the company responsible for the water tower had used the appropriate levels of chlorine while flushing the system and had followed other, related procedures properly, the bacteria would not have survived.

The patient is suing the hospital, the health system, the construction company and its subcontractors, claiming negligence and breach of contract. He is asking for compensatory and punitive damages.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Hospital Blamed for Legionnaire’s Disease,” Kevin Koeninger, Feb. 13, 2012


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