Medical malpractice lawyers have an especially challenging job in the Canadian legal landscape. They must possess a unique knowledge of both the legal and medical professions, and understand how the actions of hospital workers and medical practitioners impact their clients’ rights.

In the medical field, one surprisingly common source of injury for hospital patients is infection. Today, a minor bacterial infection is generally nothing to panic about. But with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bugs, the transfer of infections is becoming increasingly dangerous.

“There are more and more antibiotic-resistant organisms emerging. Most of the E coli bacteria cases are treatable, for instance, but I’d worry about the future when we don’t have effective antibiotics. There might be a lot of infections that can’t be treated.”

Those ominous words were spoken by Erika Vitale, Windsor Regional Hospital’s infection prevention manager at the 2013 International Patient Symposium in Detroit. She was, at the time, attempting to raise awareness of carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, a variety of bacteria that is robustly resistant to antibiotics.

“Incidences of these types of bacteria have increased since 2008 when they were first identified,” she continued. “It’ll probably continue to get much worse because we’ll continue to use antibiotics and we’ll possibly continue to spread things, even in healthcare facilities.”

This last point is where medical negligence and medical malpractice lawyers come into play. According to a National Post article from July 2016, ‘infections that patients contract after they check into hospital are estimated to cause 8,000 deaths a year in Canada.’ Health workers’ poor hygiene practices are thought to contribute significantly to this number.

“Superbugs,” as these antibiotic-resistant bacteria are known, are not a theoretical future risk. In the United States they infect at least 2-million people each year, around 23,000 of whom die. The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year that superbugs cause 1 out of 7 infections in U.S. hospitals.

Troubling though that is, experts fear that by 2050 superbugs could kill 10-million people per year globally and cost the world economy an estimated $100-trillion dollars.

“A lot of things that we take for granted right now, like say a C-section or a hip replacement or organ transplant … without having the antibiotics, these kinds of things will become really difficult,” said Francois Franceschi of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to Popular Science.

So, what can researchers, healthcare professionals, and – to a much smaller extent – medical malpractice lawyers do to avoid this potential disaster? Popular Science outlines a diverse strategy that includes trying to ‘disarm’ the bacteria; developing alternative therapies; and continuing the search for new antibiotics. Lawyers, meanwhile, can continue to fight for their clients’ rights to ensure that healthcare professionals and facilities maintain rigorous hygiene and cleanliness standards.

If you or a member of your family has developed an illness as a result of a hospital infection, you may have cause to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ Medical Malpractice Group today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Greg Neinstein