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Pittsburgh Legionnaire outbreak leads to civil lawsuits

Earlier this year we wrote a post about the outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in a Pittsburgh VA Hospital. The outbreak led to five deaths. At that time the CDC had recently released the results of its investigation into the matter. The results of that investigation pointed to construction being done at the hospital as a possible vehicle for spreading the disease. More recently, news broke regarding a lawsuit that has been filed related to one of the deaths. It is the second such lawsuit to be filed.

The lawsuit was filed by family members of an 83-year-old Navy veteran who initially entered the hospital for treatment for pneumonia. At that time he received antibiotics for both the pneumonia as well as Legionella bacteria. For some reason the antibiotics that would aid in the treatment of Legionnaires was stopped. They were not administered again for four days, at which time the diagnosis was confirmed. Sadly, it was too late and the man died.

Specifically the man's family appears to believe that there are several things that the hospital did that may have made a difference in the man living or dying. One of those things was testing the urine sample for the disease the same day that it was provided, rather than three days later. In addition, the hospital could have kept him on the antibiotics that treat Legionella bacteria, he was originally started on, rather than take him off of them after a few days passed and before learning he did in fact have the disease.

The lawsuit alleges that the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System exposed him to the disease and did not properly diagnose or treat him. In total, they are seeking $10 million in damages.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Family of Legionnaires' victim files civil claim, believes VA gave improper care," Sean D. Hamill, April 21, 2013

We handle medical malpractice claims including the type discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our page that focuses on Pittsburgh delayed diagnosis.

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