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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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If a UK hospital does not follow important details, such as

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If a UK hospital does not follow important details, such as using isolation when possible, specified their own policy document, such as 'Isolation of Adult Patients with Infectious Conditions Policy', and a patient acquires an infection, such as Norovirus, in the hospital, and dies from it, can the hospital be sued?

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.
Could you explain your situation a bit more please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

What more explanation do you need? There is limited space in your website boxes to add information. I will try. I have a complaint report from the hospital's Patient Support Services, as well as verbal statements from a couple of the infection control team, which clearly show that the hospital is not using single room isolation where possible to try to limit the spread of Norovirus. Instead they just isolate in bays or about 6 to 8 patients, but this is not consistent with their own hospital policy document, which says to rush any patient who vomits into a single isolation room if possible. It is also not consistent with National Guidelines. The latest national guidelines came out in March 2012, and the latest version of the hospital policy document was published inAugust 2012. My mother died in January 2013. She was in a bay with other patients. She was in the hospital around 45 days. The incubation period of Norovirus is around 22 to 48 hours. The 1a cause of death on her death certificate was Norovirus. It is an open and shut case that she died of a hospital acquired infection. Can I sue just for this? Or do I also have to show that they did not follow established National Guidelines, and/or their own policy document?
My main interest is to try to improve the care of patients, not to get 'after' someone's job. If they keep on ignoring the concerns which I have raised with them, it appears that the only way to get them to deal with infections in a competent and up to date manner, is to sue them.

One of the contributors to the Complaint Investigation Report was a consultant Microbiologist at the hospital, who, effectively, said that bay isolation may sometimes be better - but that is not what the hospital's own policy document says. It is apparent that there is widespread lack of knowledge and implemention of the up to date hospital policy document as regards XXXXX XXXXX room isolation when possible. This is expensive for the hospital which has regular spreads of Norovirus each year, and also deadly because it can kill, including my mother.

I have seen on the Internet that many people have sued hospitals in the past over hospital acquired infections, such as MRSA, and Legionella. Can I sue over a Norovirus death, and/or Policy non compliance?


There would appear to be two questions here. Firstly your injury claim and secondly your employment situation.

I can help you with the personal injury claim but I don't know anything about your employment question.

Alternatively I can ask somebody else to look at the employment aspect but he probably won't know about the personal injury claim.

Is that oK?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It is the personal injury claim that I am concentrating on now. The employment question depends on what they do following their investigation during my suspension, so that will have to wait, and I am not asking about the employment aspect now.

There is a possible injury claim here. The claim endures after the death of the claimant for the benefit of the deceased’s estate.

The executors of your mother’s estate would bring the claim against the hospital.

There would need to be proof that the standard of care provided fell below that which would normally have been provided and there was a breach of their duty of care. More problematical, there would need to be proof that the breach of care led to the infection and that the infection led to the injury or death.

So, whilst I think the estate has a good claim, evidentially it would be extremely difficult to bring.

It would certainly be worth while speaking to a solicitor who deals with clinical negligence matters on a no win no fee basis.

I would suggest that you went to one of the firms that specialise in clinical negligence.

You can search solicitors by postcode and area of law from the search for a solicitor link on the Law Society Website

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo C. and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No. I think that is clear enough, thank you very much.

Presumably previous MRSA related deaths personal injury claims have succeeded somehow, so first I will try further investigating such cases via searches on the Internet. If it looks promising, and the hospital are still not responding reasonably after a reasonable time, then I will contact a firm which specialises in clinical negligence.

This is a potentially important case because it also brings into question how they handle other more lethal diseases.

Thank you once again for your informative reply, and the link to the law society website. I have also been noting down firms specialising in clinical negligence from TV, newspaper, and Internet advertisements and articles.

No problem and all the best.

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