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When Is a C. Diff Infection Grounds for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

C. diff (clostridium difficile) is a bacterium that can cause illnesses ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening colon inflammation. Infections are most frequently seen in hospitals, nursing homes, or long-term care facilities. More than 500,000 people contract C difficile infection, and 29,000 people die from it each year.

Unfortunately, C. diff infections are becoming more prevalent and more difficult to treat. According to a recent study by Consumer Reports, some of the country’s largest teaching hospitals, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, are not doing enough to prevent the deadly infections.

Overall, approximately one-third of the more than 3,100 hospitals evaluated by Consumer Reports received a failing grade for C. diff infection control because their infection rates were worse than the national benchmark. “Far too many patients are getting infected with dangerous bacteria in healthcare settings,” said Tom Frieden, M.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Not surprisingly, the increase in C. diff infections has led to an uptick in lawsuits related to improper treatment. However, not all infections are attributed to negligence. Potential C. diff claims include:

  • Inappropriately prescribing antibiotics;
  • Using anti-peristaltic medications, such as Imodium or Lomotil, which are contraindicated in C. diff and can lead to toxic megacolon and death;
  • Failing to treat long enough or to discontinue the offending antibiotic therapy;
  • Neglecting to timely order the C. diff test or to initiate empiric therapy in a timely manner; and
  • Selecting an improper course of treatment, i.e. patients with rapid transit times or an ileus may not be able to absorb enteral therapy and may require enemas with flagyl or intravenous forms of flagyl therapy

If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to a medical error, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, please contact a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.