A young mother in Australia has been left paralysed after contracting a staph infection by using her friend's make-up brush. Jo Gilchrist caught the life threatening disease on Valentine's day after using her friend's make-up brush to conceal a blemish. She described the pain in her back as "worse than childbirth,". She subsequently lost all feeling in her legs and lower body and required to be airlifted to a hospital in Brisbane for emergency surgery.
The infection turned out to be MRSA, a strain of the staph virus that is resistant to drugs. Ms Gilchrist said:
"My friend did have a staph infection on her face and I was using her brush just before. I had no idea that could even happen, I used to share with my friends all the time."
This case is uncommon but not entirely unheard of. Usually, MRSA is contracted in hospitals or care homes, this is because those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to infection. Hospitals and care homes have a legal duty to ensure that risk of infection is kept to a minimum for patients and their guests, however unfortunately sometimes these standards are not adhered to.
Today we look at making a personal injury claim if you or a loved one has contracted the MRSA virus in a hospital or residential care environment.
When can I make an MRSA infection compensation claim?
There are two main scenarios under which a legal claim which can be brought. These are in relation to claims where you have contracted the infection in a hospital or residential home as these institution owe a duty of care to patients and visitors to minimise the risk of infection.
Negligent acquisition of MRSA
To bring a civil claim for compensation, you must be able to prove:
- The infection you have was contracted in the hospital or residential home
- The treatment given to you by the hospital or residential home was negligent.
- If you had not received the negligent treatment, you would not have contracted MRSA.
- The negligent treatment and subsequent infection has caused you injury and loss.
To make a successful claim, it is not enough to show that you contracted MRSA in hospital. The Courts accept that it is not always possible for hospitals to eliminate MRSA completely. However, what the Court will look at is whether all reasonable measures have been taken to reduce the risk of infection.
When you are making a claim, your solicitor will ask the hospital to provide information about precautions taken including any MRSA documents, guidelines and training provided to employees. This will allow the court to consider whether adequate steps have been taken to reduce the risk of infection.
Negligent treatment of MRSA
This claim occurs where you have contracted MRSA however, the treatment you received in hospital for the infection was not of the standard you would expect.
In order to claim compensation for negligent treatment of MRSA, you will need to prove:
- After you had contracted MRSA, the hospital treatment you received was negligent.
- This negligent treatment caused you injury and subsequent loss.
In this type of claim, the important factor is what happens after you contract the virus and whether it was properly treated. This could be things such as whether the infection was diagnosed quickly enough and whether appropriate medication was given.
If you make a successful claim under either of these circumstances, the Courts will award you financial compensation. This compensation will include damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity and also compensate you for any financial loss you have suffered as a result and even for loss of earnings you may suffer in the future as a result.
Making a medical negligence claim in the UK
Read our complete guide on making a personal injury claim in the UK for more help with medical negligence compensation.
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