Woman Files Medical Malpractice Lawsuit against Hospital That Didn't Treat Her

September 7, 2012

In an unusual twist in the world of medical malpractice law, a woman from Kansas has filed a lawsuit against a hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that never provided her medical treatment, and that she has most likely never even seen. The woman was admitted to the Hays Medical Center in Kansas in 2010 for treatment at the heart center.

She needed a pacemaker. She encountered numerous medical personnel during her admission, never suspecting one might give her an incurable disease.
In August 2012, the patient received notice from the Kansas hospital that one of their former employees had hepatitis C, that she may have been infected during her pacemaker procedure, and that she should be tested. The test came back positive. She and her husband have now filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and two staffing companies. How they came to sue a hospital in Pittsburgh over something that happened in Kansas is something one might expect to see on TV crime show.

Before coming to Kansas, a medical technician who worked at UPMC allegedly was stealing narcotics for his own personal use. He was caught with a syringe in his pants and was terminated in 2008. The hospital did not alert the police because they did not think there was enough evidence against him to press charges. The man went on to work at hospitals in several other states before finally being arrested in July, 2012 in New Hampshire. Along the way, he contracted hepatitis C and is accused of infecting 31 people at a New Hampshire hospital with the disease while attempting to steal fentanyl. After his arrest, every patient he might have come into contact with was notified that they may be infected.

Because UPMC was the first facility to suspect he was stealing drugs and they did not press charges, the victim and her husband think the hospital was negligent and contributed to her contracting the disease. If they hospital had pressed charges, the medical technician would have most likely never come into contact with the victim. The staffing company that had placed the technician at UPMC was supposedly informed of the situation, but did nothing, so they are named in the suit as well. The last entity, a healthcare staffing company, is being accused of not training or monitoring the medical technician.

Can a hospital that has never treated a patient in any way be held responsible for her contracting a disease? It will be interesting to see what the judge or jury decides, assuming the case does not settle before going to trial. Hospitals have a legal obligation to warn a person about potential harm, but UPMC would have had no way of knowing that the medical technician would end up treating the victim in Kansas and infecting her. If you or someone you know may have been affected by misinformation or a lack of information from a doctor, hospital, or other medical professional, contact a Kentucky medical malpractice attorney right away. All personal injury cases, including medical malpractice cases, have a statute of limitations that limits the time a person has to take legal action.

Sources:

Kansas woman files hepatitis C lawsuit against Pittsburgh hospital, alleges negligence; Associated Press; Kevin Begos; September 4, 2012

Woman sues UPMC after contracting hepatitis; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Moriah Balingit; September 5, 2012