Approximately 12,000 healthcare employees are infected with Hepatitis each year from needle sticks during their time at work. More are infected with human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. In addition, approximately 300 healthcare workers die each year as the result of needle sticks. According to statistics, Hepatitis C is responsible for more deaths than HIV. A health care worker with HIV or Hepatitis may have some legal recourse, depending on the circumstances and other factors, through a personal injury case. Following are some of the important components of personal injury cases involving a health care worker with HIV or Hepatitis:
Negligence: Establishing who was negligent in a health care setting can prove difficult. For example, a nurse or doctor could leave a needle in an obscure location, such as between a bed and bed railing, which could result in a needle stick that affects a nurse or other person changing the bedding. Health care facilities, such as doctor’s offices, hospitals or hospices, are required to follow a set of rules and regulations administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These rules require that the owner or administration of a facility follow a strict set of standard procedures when handling blood-borne pathogens, such as Hepatitis or HIV. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed him a duty of protection that was breached and caused the accident leading to the contraction of a deadly disease.
Mental health damages: Personal injury cases allow for general compensation related to pain, suffering or stress associated with the injured person’s accident. Many people suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders or panic attacks due to the feeling of impending doom associated with the contraction of a deadly disease or the constant testing for proof of HIV infection. Establishing a basis for mental health damages can be difficult due to a very fleeting reference to mental health care in the Centers for Disease Control and OSHA regulations.