HIV from Medical Malpractice: How It Can Happen and What Can Be Done

Negligent practices can expose patients to a variety of infectious diseases, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in a variety of settings: 

  • surgical facilities;
  • dental clinics;
  • hospitals; and
  • dialysis centers. 

Although anyone’s health could be in jeopardy, those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk. While rare, learn under what circumstances a patient could acquire HIV because of medical malpractice.

Examples of Negligence That Could Expose a Patient to HIV

Hospital or clinic practices as well as carelessness of medical professionals might put patients at risk for dangerous infections like HIV. The following are just some examples of circumstances under which medical negligence could expose patients to HIV: 

  • reused needles;
  • improper storage of blood vials;
  • staff failing to sterilize medical instruments;
  • ineffective pressurized cleaner;
  • staff not changing their gloves between patients;
  • staff failing to properly clean blood from chairs, tables and other surfaces; and
  • human tissue stuck inside surgical tools. 

If a patient tests positive for HIV linked to these or other cases of medical negligence, he or she may have the right to seek compensation for damages from the liable parties. An attorney can explain legal options that could be available to pursue damages.

Recovery of Damages after HIV Infection Linked to Medical Malpractice 

The good news is that when HIV is diagnosed early, treatment usually helps slow down or prevent the advancement of the virus. However, there is no cure for HIV and treatment lasts for the rest of the patient’s life.

Damages could address the medical costs incurred. This may include medication to control the disease for the remainder of the patient’s life.  But sometimes health complications or side effects result in hospitalization, additional expenses for which a medical malpractice claim should account.

While most can continue to work, some patients may miss work as they undergo treatment or, in certain cases, individuals may be unable to work in their previous job. Lost earnings or earning capacity might be addressed in a medical malpractice claim as well, depending on the circumstances. Beyond the financial aspect, learning that one has HIV because of a healthcare provider’s negligence can lead to mental distress.

Some examples of compensation that patients may seek in these cases are: 

  • reduced quality of life;
  • pain and suffering;
  • mental anguish; and
  • disability. 

Seek Legal Advice if Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Claim

These types of cases are especially complicated. There must be proof that not only a patient acquired HIV, but that a healthcare provider’s careless or reckless actions directly caused it. This can be challenging to prove in many cases, and will require a thorough investigation and ample evidence. An attorney can help acquire this evidence and organize their case to establish causation and liability.

The case may also require expert testimony from a professional who has medical and scientific knowledge related to HIV and medicine to help prove the case. This may be important in establishing the healthcare professional’s negligence – that the defendant acted outside of the acceptable standard of care – and to establish the link between the healthcare provider’s actions and the patient’s infection.

To protect your rights, secure legal representation. An attorney will ensure that the compensation sought is fair and adequately meets the your financial, physical and psychological needs. Contact an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates today to set up a consultation with an attorney. Call us at 800-550-0000 or fill out our contact form to schedule your appointment.

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