Get legal advice and help relating to Pittsburgh Legionnaire's Disease illnesses and deaths at no cost to you or your family. It is important to act now because specific statutes of limitation apply to these cases.
Legionnaire's Disease is caused by inhaling water vapor or mist containing Legionella bacteria – often in showers or hot tubs. Thousands of Americans a year contract Legionnaires Disease, and a small number of people die from it – usually individuals who are already in ill health. Some of the most common sources of Legionnaires Disease are water systems in hotels or hospitals. Most such facilities have water treatment equipment to kill Legionella bacteria.
In January 2013, the Pittsburgh VA told CBS New that it had diagnosed 29 cases of Legionnaires' disease at its hospital over the past two years. It acknowledged that five of those patients had caught the disease at their facility, eight had caught the disease elsewhere in the community, and that 16 others caught the disease from an "undetermined" location.
Yet the Pittsburgh VA called a consultant as far back as 2011 to look into its legionella problem. The company, Liquitech, told CBS News that in December of 2011, Pittsburgh VA officials informed Liquitech it had the deadly bacteria in its water system. After an inspection, Liquitech noted in an e-mail, quote "they have legionella" and "systems not being properly maintained. Four months later, the Pittsburgh VA called in Enrich, Inc., a second legionella prevention company.
On February 5, 2013 the Congressional House Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing on the recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease at the VA’s Pittsburgh facilities. The hearing was held in Washington DC. The Center for Disease Control has conducted its own investigation into the matter, and presented its report to the Committee; the report has not at this writing been made public.
CBS News reports that it has obtained the CDC's findings. It has reported that according to the CDC, the Pittsburgh VA hospital's laboratory did not follow protocol in notifying the hospital's infection prevention team when patients tested positive for Legionella bacteria. The CDC also found that the VA hospital's infection prevention team did not typically contact the providers with the results. It also found that Legionella cultures were not done on the urine samples of 16 patients, which experts say would make it difficult to ascertain whether or not the infection was hospital-acquired.
"The CDC report underscores the need to have appropriate reporting requirements to keep people safe and informed," Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey said in a press release.
The CDC investigation found that five patients died within 30 days of a positive diagnostic test for Legionnaires' disease, but that only one death was "definitely" linked to the hospital, and that four other deaths "probably" were hospital-acquired.
If you or one of your family or friends has questions about this outbreak and whether or not you can be compensated for your illness, injury or death, we at Berger & Lagnese invite you to consult with us as soon as you can, and at no cost whatsoever. We are compassionate, successful and experienced trial lawyers,and we handle these sorts of cases throughout Pennsylvania.