Clostridium difficile, or C. Diff., is an intestinal infection that is considered to be nosocomial or hospital-acquired. At Mishkind Kulwicki Law, we are receiving more inquiries regarding cases arising out of healthcare providers’ delay in diagnosing and treating this disease, resulting in fatality or loss of bowel. The disease is spread by orofecal transmission facilitated by ineffective hospital or nursing home infection control measures. Studies have shown that this disease can be eradicated if proper infection control measures are used.
Certain populations are at risk for C. Diff. infections, particularly elderly or immunocompromised patients who have recently undergone a course of antibiotics and have been in a hospital or nursing home. Antibiotics alter the normal bacterial population in the intestines thereby giving C. Diff. the opportunity to flourish. C. Diff. releases a toxin as a byproduct that damages the bowel, causes sepsis and permits other opportunistic infections to occur. Proper treatment requires physicians to heed risk factors and symptoms, then promptly start antibiotics. Often physicians will unnecessarily delay treatment while waiting for test results, which can take days, or mis-treat using ineffective antibiotics or antiperistaltic drugs (e.g., Imodium).
As a matter of law, a delay in diagnosis can create an actionable medical negligence claim. Courts find that a delay in diagnosis can result in a condition, like a C. Diff. infection, progressing from an early, treatable stage to an advanced, potentially fatal stage. Thus, the delay itself causes injury by ruining any chance of survival or necessitating removal of the damaged bowel. If you have questions about a delay in diagnosis of C. Diff., the lawyers at Mishkind Kulwicki Law may be able to help with answers.