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Silence is Not Golden

Imagine that a deadly microorganism has made its way to a hospital. This microorganism is resistant to most antibiotics and puts hospitals at risk of an outbreak and patients at risk of infection. Should the patients in this hospital be privy to this information?

A recent New York Times article entitled “Culture of Secrecy Shields Hospitals With Outbreaks of Drug-Resistant Infections” focuses on this question, which has become more significant due to the rise of a dangerous fungus called Candida auris. Co-authors Andrew Jacobs and Matt Richtel found that the answer is surprisingly complicated.

The debate is the result of the fact that although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently sent out a public alert in Mexico when a drug-resistant bacteria was found in a hospital in Tijuana, the CDC is “barred from publicly identifying hospitals that are battling to contain the spread of dangerous pathogens” in the United States.

Reasons for Silence in Hospitals

Below are some of the reasons (excuses) offered by powerful medical institutions and state health officials in support keeping secret this information, along with a few observations about those reasons.

Consequences of Silence for Patients

There’s no other way to say it. Nothing good comes from withholding this information. Take what happened at a hospital in Seattle when almost 40 patients became infected with a drug-resistant organism they got from a contaminated medical scope. Eighteen of them died, and the hospital never disclosed the outbreak.

Patients Have the Right to Transparency

Legislators like Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and California state Senator Jerry Hill, and safety organizations like Health Watch USA believe that hospitals should be required to “regularly disclose resistant infections and deaths.” Their focus is on advocating for the patients, not the hospitals.

Help is Available

If you or someone you love has been affected by a drug-resistant infection whose presence may have been concealed from you, The Eisen Law Firm can help. Call our experienced Cleveland malpractice lawyers to discuss your options for legal recourse and for obtaining the compensation you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call 216-287-0900 or contact us online today.