Is America Being Infected By Malpractice? Can The Government Do Anything About It?

A man takes his daughter to the hospital for an appendicitis. Surgery goes well, and before he knows it, his daughter is recovering. Fast forward several months and the man receives a letter from the hospital. It asks that he get his daughter tested for HIV. Just what went wrong, and why do 3,000 other people have to get tested for this disease, too?

Is America Being Infected By Malpractice?

Surgeon operating an uncounscious patient in an operating theater in a hospitalYou probably haven’t heard of this type of malpractice, but almost 3,000 people who sought care at the Swedish Medical Center know about it. They received letters asking them to submit to HIV and Hepatitis testing, but why did they have to get these tests? Needle-swapping.

It sounds like something druggies do on the streets, but a new wave of needle-swappers are showing up in hospitals around the country. These cases usually happen when surgical technologists are left alone with powerful drugs like fentanyl, and so they switch out syringes to get a high.

In the Swedish Medical Center case, this surgical tech was caught using a patient’s drip to steal narcotics before giving the drip back to the patient. Behavior like this has been known to spread blood borne diseases. So after the tech tested positive for HIV, the hospital asked everyone who could have been exposed to get tested.

Can The Government Do Anything About It?

This was not this surgical tech’s first drug stealing incident. He was discharged from the Navy after stealing drugs in Afghanistan, he was fired from several hospitals on the west coast for the same crime, and despite being discovered every time, he was never prosecuted. He was even hired by a hospital in the same city where he had been fired three weeks earlier.

Right now, only 13 states regulate and monitor the surgical techs hired by hospitals. Georgia is not one of these states. That means you could be in danger of being exposed to a potentially deadly disease at the hospital. In 2009, a lawsuit against a hospital in Colorado managed to institute changes to that state’s laws. But will a big lawsuit be needed here in Georgia?

Keep following your Macon medical malpractice attorneys through our blog, Facebook and Twitter to learn more about what you can do to make our hospitals safer.



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