Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System May Be Held Responsible for Legionnaire’s Outbreak in Medical Facilities

In the coming months, a host of veterans and their families may seek out the services of a personal injury lawyer in PA. From February 2011 to November 2012 up to twenty-one patients treated in VA hospitals were later diagnosed with Legionnaire’s Disease, an airborne bacterial disease that resembles a severe case of pneumonia. Five of the patients died, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of these was John J. Ciarolla, an 83-year-old Navy veteran. Ciarolla died in July of 2011, and his death certificate lists the cause of death as “complications from pneumonia.” In March 2013, his family met with the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, who told them that John died of Legionnaire’s disease, which he caught in the VA hospital where he was being treated for something else.

The VA knew that multiple patients were being infected with this disease in their facilities, although it was not until October 30, 2012, that the CDC told Pittsburgh VA officials that contaminated tap water was the likely cause of the infection. Now that Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System has acknowledged its culpability, it could be facing a barrage of wrongful injury and death suits.

According to one expert, however, it may be difficult for patients and families to file claims, because the VA delayed announcing their negligence in the Legionnaire’s outbreak. By law, a personal injury lawyer PA is required to file a claim within two years of the injury, diagnosis, or death. According to National VA policy, hospitals must warn patients and their families about adverse conditions in medical facilities that could lead to infections or complications. The Pittsburgh VA did not fulfill these obligations until many months had passed. However, because the regulations do not specify how long the announcement can be postponed, the Pittsburgh VA did not technically violate its rules. Many, however, are hopeful that they will be able to file a claim against the Pittsburgh VA. The Office of the Inspector General Conducting an investigation to see how well medical officials followed suggestions in a 2007 report on how to prevent Legionnaire’s disease, which is already the most common form of pneumonia in VA hospitals. If the VA is found guilty or negligent, many patients and families may be able to collect money for medical bills and for pain and distress with the help of a personal injury lawyer in PA.

Of course, no amount of money will bring John Ciarolla back to life, or ease the pain in the hearts of his family. But as any good personal injury lawyer in PA will tell you, part of the reason for filing a medical malpractice suit is to bring negligent medical practitioners to task and to keep such events from happening in the future.

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