Have you contracted an infection in hospital?
If you have suffered a hospital acquired infection within the past three years, you could be entitled to make a medical negligence compensation claim
How Much Could You Claim?

Hospital Infection Claims

The UK health service is regulated by stringent health and safety measures to ensure the protection of patients, staff, and visitors. Hospitals have a legal obligation to minimise the causes, development, and spread of infections by adopting secure and thorough hygiene practices. However, this legal duty is sometimes breached and can have a significant impact on patients.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) estimates that around 300,000 NHS patients acquire a hospital-based infection each year. Unfortunately, infections can spread rapidly in hospitals due to constant movement, weakened immune systems and multiple surfaces that are touched regularly. Such occurrences can severely impact a patient’s recovery and affect their confidence in the quality of care they receive.

If you want to find out if you could claim for a hospital infection, call 0800 032 3660 or enter your details to request a call back. A friendly solicitor will offer a free consultation to discuss your case and legal options.

Am I eligible to make a hospital acquired infection claim?

Hospitals are not always liable for the infections you may have acquired as an in-patient. To prove liability, you must show that the hospital breached its duty of care towards you and failed to take sufficient measures to prevent the infection. Medical staff are responsible for treating you and preventing the spread of germs during your stay in the hospital. If they breached this duty of care, they will likely be found liable for your suffering, and you will be eligible to make a hospital acquired infection claim.

If you work with an experienced solicitor, they will gather evidence to prove how and why you suffered an infection, which could include:

  • Photographs you took to show poor hygiene standards
  • Photos of any visible signs of infection
  • Your medical records, which should include details about the type of germs you contracted and the treatment you received
  • Statements from other patients, friends and family or hospital staff
  • Copies of the ward’s cleaning records
  • Evidence of financial losses and expenses you incurred due to the hospital infection
  • Some hospitals have CCTV cameras, and your solicitor could help secure footage which may help prove you received substandard care.

Solicitors are highly experienced in successfully building and presenting cases for hospital infections such as MRSA and C. Diff. Your solicitor will happily discuss your specific circumstances during a free consultation. As well as determining if you have a valid case, they will also be able to advise on your chances of success and how much hospital infection compensation you can realistically expect to receive.

How do hospital-acquired infections occur?

In hospitals, germs, bacteria, and infections can pose a significant risk to patients, especially those with weaker immune systems or open wounds. Hospital acquired infections can spread rapidly through skin-to-skin contact with other patients, surfaces or medical staff carrying the bacteria.

Two common infections found in UK hospitals are MRSA and C. Difficile, which are frequently covered in the news. Hospitals are expected to adhere to strict hygiene and cleanliness practices to reduce the risk of such infections. When these measures are not adequately followed, the hospital will have breached its duty of care, increasing the risk of patients developing an infection. This can be done through actions or inactions, such as:

  • Failure to clean surgical instruments properly
  • Reusing infected materials
  • Improper cleaning methods
  • Failing to sanitise hospital wards thoroughly
  • Overuse or misuse of antibiotics, leading to antibiotic-resistant bacteria
  • Failure to properly clean and disinfect medical equipment
  • Failure to wash used bedding sufficiently
  • Inadequate handwashing or improper use of hand sanitisers
  • Poor post-surgery check-ups
  • Not receiving the correct medication to treat an infection

The above may all be a form of medical negligence if it results in a patient suffering from a hospital infection. If it can be proven that the hospital was at fault for you contracting a germ, you should be entitled to make a hospital infection claim.

What are the symptoms of a hospital acquired infection?

The symptoms you could suffer will vary depending on the type of infection that is acquired and can also vary from patient to patient. Some of the most common claims for a hospital infection are related to:

MRSA

An MRSA skin infection can often begin as a painful lump, boil or abscess on the skin that could be mistaken for an insect bite. This lump is usually accompanied by at least one of the following symptoms, though in severe cases, patients can suffer from all of these:

  • A high temperature or fever
  • Chills and delicate skin
  • Pain and sensitivity in the area of the body affected
  • Lethargy and overall feeling of being ill
  • Confusion, delirium and dizziness
  • Aches and pains in limbs and muscles

If MRSA is not promptly diagnosed and treated, it can progress to a more severe skin condition called cellulitis. Cellulitis can present the symptoms above at heightened levels coupled with severe discolouration and swelling. Failure to treat either of these conditions can lead to further illnesses and complications, such as blood poisoning, septic bursitis, septic arthritis, and infection of the heart lining, known as endocarditis.

If you or a loved one has been impacted by the effects of MRSA and would like some additional help or support, the charity MRSA Action UK is a great source of information.

Clostridium Difficile

C. Difficile, also known as Clostridium difficile or C. diff, is an especially dangerous infection as it can be challenging to kill the bacteria that causes it. This means the risks of contracting and spreading it are high as the bacteria can survive on surfaces for months.

While it does not pose a considerable risk to healthy people, it can have devastating results in hospitals, where sick and weak people are trying to recover. In a frail immune system, the bacteria can rapidly multiply and cause significant damage to the patient’s gut. C. Difficile can present a host of symptoms with some of the most common including:

  • Repeated incidences of diarrhoea, often containing blood. It is not unusual for patients with C Difficile to have at least five bouts of diarrhoea daily. More severe cases can increase to fifteen times per day.
  • Severe pain and stomach cramps
  • A raised temperature or fever
  • Nausea and appetite loss, leading to rapid weight loss
  • Dehydration and associated symptoms
  • Overall lethargy and unwell feeling

If C. Difficile is left untreated, the colon might become significantly damaged and inflamed, leading to a condition called colitis. That can result in worsening degrees of the above symptoms and substantial suffering and pain for the patient. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), this bacteria was the cause of 1,646 deaths in England and Wales in 2012.

Other hospital infection compensation claims may be related to:

If you or a loved one contracted an infection or disease due to medical negligence, you might be able to make a hospital negligence claim. To learn more about your chance of making a successful compensation claim, speak to a legal adviser by calling 0800 032 3660 for a free consultation. Alternatively, you can use our online claim form to have a legal adviser call you back.

How much compensation can I claim for a hospital infection?

The compensation awarded to you in a hospital infection claim will largely depend upon the severity of your suffering and any long-lasting impact on your life. The more severe your symptoms and the greater their long-term effects, the larger the compensation sum is likely to be.

In addition to receiving compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the illness (general damages), you would also be entitled to claim any financial losses linked to the infection (special damages). All of these losses can be recovered as part of your claim, as you should not be left out of pocket due to the negligent actions of a third party. If your case is successful, your settlement could cover the following:

  • The physical pain and suffering you endured
  • The psychological distress this has caused you, such as fear for life and anxiety
  • Loss of consortium and companionship
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Impacts on your ability to pursue a hobby or leisure activities
  • Lost wages during recovery and loss of earning capacity
  • Care costs, even if offered by friends or family
  • Travel costs to attend medical appointments
  • Medical expenses like private treatment and prescriptions

Based on the guidelines from the Judicial College, you could receive:

  • £750 to £3,100 for minor symptoms like inflammation and irritation with recovery within a few months
  • £3,000 to £7,000 for moderate pain, fatigue, stomach cramps and significant discomfort with full recovery within a year or two
  • £9,540 to £19,200 for vomiting and diarrhoea lasting up to four weeks with some remaining disturbances for a long period
  • £29,000 to £40,000 for severe long-term symptoms
  • Up to £63,980 for a kidney infection with a significant risk of total loss of function

Your solicitor will work with commitment and determination to ensure that you receive the highest compensation award possible and, in doing so, minimise future risks for other patients. Compensation claims against hospitals will highlight hazards and vulnerabilities that should be addressed, resulting in better patient safety in the future.

Claiming for a fatal infection acquired in hospital

We realise that no amount of money could help ease the pain of losing a loved one due to a hospital infection. However, if you were a dependent of the deceased, compensation could help with the financial impact of your loss. According to the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, your solicitor could help you:

  • Make a financial dependency claim if you relied on your loved one’s income.
  • Claim for loss of services if the deceased was responsible for household chores, gardening or childcare.
  • Claim for funeral expenses and financial losses incurred by your loved one between the date of the infection and when they passed away.
  • Claim a bereavement award of £15,120 which serves as recognition of the wrongful death and your pain and suffering. There is only one bereavement award, and it must be divided between the eligible claimants.

If your loved one passed away due to an infection they acquired in the hospital, our medical negligence solicitors can guide you through the process of making a hospital infection claim. They understand this is a difficult time for you and will offer you compassionate advice and guidance.

Time limits to start a hospital infection claim

If you want to make a hospital acquired infection claim, you usually have three years to start legal proceedings. Under the Limitation Act 1980, the time limit will start from:

  • The date you were infected; or
  • The date you received your diagnosis, known as the date of knowledge

The date of knowledge is most likely to apply in most claims for hospital infection compensation. Although three years may seem like a long time, it is always better to seek legal advice as early as possible. That will make it easier to understand what happened, talk to witnesses and gather evidence for your case.

Different time limits might apply in certain circumstances, such as:

  • The three-year countdown does not begin until a person turns 18. A parent or legal guardian could claim on behalf of a child at any time before their 18th birthday, regardless of when the infection occurred.
  • The time limit is suspended if the claimant is an adult who cannot conduct legal proceedings. A litigation friend could start a claim on their behalf anytime.
  • In case of a fatal infection, you could claim compensation within three years from the date of death of your loved one or from when a post-mortem established the cause of death.

Will medical negligence solicitors provide a No Win No Fee service?

If the solicitors we work with believe you have a fair chance to win hospital infection compensation, they will offer you a no win no fee agreement*. This service will make the medical negligence claims process much less stressful for you because:

  • You do not have to pay any upfront fees for legal representation
  • Your solicitor will build your case, handle all communication on your behalf and negotiate your settlement
  • You do not have to pay them a single penny if your claim is unsuccessful

With no win no fee, you only pay your solicitor a percentage of your compensation award if you win the case. This success fee will be agreed upon from the beginning based on the specifics of your case and cannot be more than 25% of your settlement.

Another essential part of the no win no fee service is legal expenses insurance, known as After the Event (ATE) insurance. The ATE gives you further peace of mind, as it will cover all your legal costs and disbursements if you lose the claim. These include the defendant’s expenses, court fees, the cost of medical reports and others. This ensures you will never be left out of pocket if your claim is unsuccessful.

To find out if you have a valid hospital infection claim, call 0800 032 3660 or fill in our online claim form to receive a call back. An experienced legal adviser will offer you a free case assessment and answer any questions you may have.

* Personal injury claims are offered on a no win, no fee basis. If your claim is successful, your solicitor will receive up to 25% of your compensation as their success fee. Any additional costs, such as legal protection insurance, will be clearly explained to you by your solicitor before you decide to proceed with your claim. Termination fees may apply if you fail to cooperate with your solicitor. This includes deliberately misleading your solicitor, failing to attend scheduled medical or expert examinations, or not appearing at a required court hearing.