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Hospital loses community's trust after patient deaths

While trust is usually earned in most situations, this isn’t always the case with doctors and hospitals. That’s because most people here in Arizona, as well as across the country, have a natural belief that a hospital and its staff will help sick and injured people get better. We trust that they will provide us with the highest standard of care possible and we do this almost without question.

But as with most things, this trust can be easily broken and difficult to regain. This will likely be the case for a children’s hospital out in Louisiana where several patients contracted a flesh-eating fungal infection known as mucormycosis. According to multiple sources -- including patient records and even legal testimony from hospital staff -- the fungus was likely transmitted via hospital linens because of improper handling of the contaminated linens.

Although the Centers for Disease Control does not fault the hospital for failing to move quicker on the detecting an outbreak of the deadly fungus, others in the community may not have the same sentiments. According to an April 23 article from the Courthouse News Service, at least one family has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and is suing for damages of an undisclosed amount. It’s possible that other parents who either lost children or whose children were seriously injured by the infection may follow suit.

Though this case of hospital negligence was far removed from residents here in Phoenix, this story goes to show that accidents can happen anywhere. And while we’d like to think that we can put our whole-hearted trust in hospitals and medical staff, tragedies like this remind us about just how fragile that trust is and how quickly it can be broken when an error is made.

Source: The New York Times, "A Deadly Fungus and Questions at a Hospital," Ian Urbina and Sheri Fink, April 28, 2014

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