When you visit a hospital, you hope that your condition will be treated and you’ll begin to get better. You probably don’t expect to be made ill during a stay in the hospital but, unfortunately, this can happen. While hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA are not too common, they do happen and they can lead to very serious illnesses. This guide on hospital-acquired infection claims will explain when you could be compensated for any suffering caused to you or a loved one.
Our team is on hand if you’d like free advice on making a hospital acquired-infection claim. We will review your case for free and offer legal advice about your options. If the claim is deemed to be suitable, a medical negligence solicitor on our panel could agree to represent you. If they do, your claim will be managed on a No Win, No Fee basis. As such, you won’t be asked to pay legal fees unless you receive a compensation payout.
Please call us on 0800 652 1345 if you’d like to discuss your options or read on to learn more about hospital-acquired infection compensation claims.
What are hospital-acquired infections?
Hospital or healthcare-acquired infections are conditions that are contracted whilst in a hospital. The most common types of infections are:
- MRSA or Meticillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus – Common symptoms include painful red spots, chills, fever, pain and generally feeling unwell. Untreated MRSA can lead to cellulitis, blood poisoning (sepsis), urinary tract infections, septic arthritis and osteomyelitis.
- E coli or Escherichia coli – This condition is usually caused after eating undercooked food but it can be spread by touch. Symptoms of E coli can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.
- C diff or Clostridium difficile – C.difficile bacteria can survive on surfaces for many months. The bacteria aren’t usually a problem for healthy people but can harm those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms can include dehydration, fever, weight loss and diarrhoea.
- COVID-19 – Since the pandemic, social distancing measures to stop the spread of COVID have been reduced. However, you could claim if you contracted the condition in a hospital because of a lack of infection control or poor hygiene standards.
In the very worst cases, symptoms caused by hospital infections such as sepsis can be fatal.
If you’ve been made ill by any hospital infection as a result of negligence, you could claim compensation for your suffering so please get in touch.
Who is at risk of a hospital-acquired infection?
In most cases, hospital infections are spread by skin-to-skin contact with somebody else who is already infected. The main reasons why these infections can spread so easily in hospitals is because:
- Patients in hospitals may have a weakened immune system.
- Open wounds including sores, burns or holes made by a catheter can make it easier for infections to enter the body.
- Hospital staff are busy and move around wards frequently increasing the risk of an infection spreading.
The patients that are most at risk of being infected in hospitals include the elderly and frail, premature babies, patients with underlying health problems and those with a depleted immune system such as cancer patients.
Can I claim compensation for a hospital-acquired infection?
Our panel of medical negligence solicitors will always try to help if they believe a hospital infection claim has a decent chance of success. To assess that, they’ll review the evidence to check for the following:
- Medical negligence. Essentially, this is where a medical professional has provided a level of care that is not at the standard you should expect; and
- Causation. Here, the evidence will need to show that your infection was caused by negligence and not as the result of something else.
As you might imagine, proving how you contracted a hospital infection can be a complex task. That’s why we believe it’s best to work with a specialist solicitor. If you work with us, your solicitor will use third-party experts to assess how you were treated, what went wrong and how you suffered. Based on the proof available, they’ll advise you if you have a chance of being compensated.
Will my claim go to court?
If your claim is taken on, it is unlikely to go to court. That’s largely because most claims are settled amicably with the hospital or NHS Resolution (the body that insurers NHS hospitals). Court action is usually only needed for the more complex cases or where liability for your condition cannot be agreed upon.
How can hospital-acquired infections be prevented?
To try and prevent the spread of infections spreading through the hospital the following steps should be taken:
- Staff should wash their hands regularly with soap before treating patients.
- There should be a clearly defined infection control policy.
- Latex gloves and personal protective equipment should be used by doctors and nurses when treating patients (especially when treating open wounds).
- Bed linen should be changed frequently.
- There should be a strong cleaning policy for the hospital’s ward that is monitored regularly.
- Food for patients should be stored and prepared hygienically and cooked at the correct temperature.
If any of the above actions are not taken and you contract an infection in the hospital as a result, you may have grounds to sue for any suffering that results.
Providing proof for a hospital infection claim
If you claim against a hospital after being made ill by an infection, your solicitor will gather proof to demonstrate why and how you suffered. This could include:
- Your medical records to prove the type of infection that made you ill.
- Photographs if you took any to demonstrate poor hygiene standards.
- Copies of the ward’s cleaning records and rota during your stay.
- Witness statements from your friends and family to help prove how your condition affected you.
In addition to the above, your solicitor will help you to prepare a statement to explain how the hospital-acquired infection affected you. This might include a diary of dates when you couldn’t work, family events that your illness caused you to miss and a list of expenses incurred while you were ill.
What can I claim compensation for?
The idea of any medical negligence claim is to seek damages to cover any avoidable physical, emotional and financial suffering. Each hospital infection claim is unique but if your claim is successful, you might receive compensation to cover:
- Fear for life, distress, anxiety and other forms of psychiatric damage.
- Physical discomfort, pain or suffering.
- Loss of income while you were ill.
- Loss of amenity.
- Medical expenses such as private remedial treatment if it will help you to recover sooner.
- Any future reduction in earnings caused by the infection.
- Travel expense.
- Costs to cover the time of a carer if you needed support during your recovery.
- Adaptations to your home if a more serious hospital-acquired infection led to a disability.
There is a fair bit to consider before submitting your claim as you can see. So that you don’t miss out on the hospital infection compensation you might be entitled to, we suggest that you seek legal advice before starting the claims process.
How much compensation for a hospital-acquired infection can I claim?
The amount of compensation for a hospital-acquired infection you may get, if your claim is successful, will depend on the nature of your suffering. To assess this, an independent specialist will need to discuss your case with you. Once they’ve got the information they need from you and your medical records, they’ll prepare a report to explain your prognosis. Once your solicitor is in receipt of their report, they’ll be able to provide a compensation estimate for you.
Can I claim compensation for a hospital infection on behalf of someone else??
In some cases, it is not possible for the injured party to claim compensation on their own. This might be the case if they’re a child (under 18 years old) or they don’t have the mental capacity to take legal action themselves.
For these reasons, the legislation friend process exists so that a responsible adult can claim on behalf of someone else. This is something the solicitors from our panel can help you to apply for.
Once the paperwork has been approved, you’ll be allowed to handle the claim and instruct solicitors on how to proceed. If the claim is won, any compensation will be held in a court trust fund and you’ll be able to request payments from it by writing to the court.
Claiming for a loved one who died from an infection
If you have lost a loved one following a hospital-acquired infection, you may be entitled to claim compensation for wrongful death. We know that this won’t make it any easier to deal with your loss but we can help if you’d like to seek justice on their behalf.
Furthermore, you may be eligible to claim compensation if you were financially dependent on the deceased’s income, pension or benefits. Loss of companionship and financial costs such as funeral expenses could also be sought during a hospital infection claim.
We are more than willing to answer any questions you might have so please feel free to get in touch.
No Win, No Fee claims
Taking any sort of legal action can be distressing. For many, the main worry is about the cost of hiring a specialist solicitor to represent them. For that reason, our panel of medical negligence solicitors work on a No Win, No Fee basis for all hospital infection claims they accept.
A No Win, No Fee claim basically means:
- There’s no need to pay your solicitor in advance.
- Legal fees will not be payable should the hospital infection claim fail.
- You pay a percentage of your compensation as a success fee if the claim is won.
If your claim is taken on, you’ll receive a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) containing all the information you’ll need. It will explain what your solicitors work will involve i.e:
- Determining how you’ve suffered by discussing your claim in detail.
- Finding the proof needed to support your hospital infection claim.
- Sending the claim to NHS Resolution or a private hospital’s insurer.
- Fighting your corner and attempting to counter any queries or arguments regarding liability.
- Keeping you updated throughout the claims process.
- Aiming to secure the highest amount of damages possible.
If you’d like to check if you can claim for a hospital-acquired infection on a No Win, No Fee basis, please get in touch.
Hospital infection claims time limits
In line with the Limitation Act 1980, UK hospital infection claims have a 3-year time limit. Generally, the time limit will begin from the date your infection was diagnosed. However, time limits can vary if:
- You’re claiming on behalf of a child (claims can be made at any time before their 18th birthday).
- The claim is on behalf of a claimant without the mental capacity to claim (there is no time limit while this is the case).
- You’re claiming on behalf of a loved one who has died from a hospital-acquired infection. Here, the 3-year limitation period will begin from the date of their death or when you found out about it.
If you’d like us to check how long you have to claim compensation for a hospital infection, please call our team today. Starting your claim as soon as possible will usually make the process easier and could mean you don’t miss out on the compensation you might be entitled to.
Start a hospital-acquired infection claim today
If you or a loved one has suffered because of a hospital-acquired infection and you’d like to seek compensation, please call us today on 0800 652 1345. A friendly member of our team will review your case during a free consultation and provide legal advice about your next steps.
If there’s a fair chance you’ll be compensated, a medical negligence lawyer on our panel may agree to represent you. If they do, you’ll benefit from a No Win, No Fee service which means you won’t need to cover any legal fees unless compensation is paid.
We’re here to help on the phone or via live chat so please get in touch if you’ve any more questions about hospital-acquired infection claims.