A Miami Veterans Affairs hospital is in hot water after a judge recently sided with a patient who filed a lawsuit against the institution. According to the claim, the patient was infected with hepatitis C after hospital personnel used a tainted endoscope during a colonoscopy in 2007. The medical malpractice suit is still awaiting the judge’s financial decision, but the man has claimed $30 million in damages.

While stories like this often fail to make the mainstream media, the number of individuals placed at risk is staggering. The Miami VA hospital, in addition to a Georgia and a Tennessee VA hospital, has notified 11,000 patients who received a colonoscopy between 2004 and 2009 to urge them to be tested for hepatitis. Medical professionals who use contaminated instruments on their patients, like those here, have committed hospital negligence.

When individuals fall victim to hospital negligence, serious injuries or death can result. Victims may face a worsened condition, a new illness, the need for long-term care, strenuous physical rehabilitation and disability. While the physical and emotional toll rendered by such negligence can be overwhelming, these individuals also have to face a sometimes crippling financial burden associated with further medical treatment.

Fortunately, a medical malpractice lawsuit can help these victims obtain the compensation they need and deserve. Awards can help cover medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages. As is evidenced by the recent Miami VA hospital claim, these expenses can skyrocket. It is therefore imperative that hospital negligence victims fight to be made whole again.

In addition to helping struggling victims obtain awards to aid in their recovery, a successful malpractice claim also keep hospitals alert as to the condition of their facilities and the actions of their doctors. The only way medical malpractice will ever be stopped is if hospitals are perfect in prevention. Successful lawsuits are a first step in showing these institutions how important patient safety is and how vigorously it should be protected.

Source: outpatientsurgery.net, “Judge Finds VA Hospital Liable in Endo Hepatitis Case,” David Bernard, Oct. 19, 2012