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Hospital Infection as Legal Issue in Healthcare Essay

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2022

Negligence is part of tort law that engulfs a legally wrong action by one party that leads to the suffering of the other party. Negligence comprises four elements, namely the duty of care, the breach of the duty, injury, and causation (Barnett & Kelly, 2017). In this paper, the tort law will be further interpreted through the case study of Mrs. Smith’s lawsuit against Bright Road Health System. According to Mrs. Smith, she caught a staph infection while in the recovery room from surgery, mainly because of the doctor’s negligence. Mrs. Smith argues that she noticed the doctor failed to change gloves after attending to all patients and still used them on her at the end of the line. The case provides justifiable grounds for establishing whether the institution practices negligence and the imminent medical malpractices put the patients’ recovery process at risk.

Duty of Care

Cleanliness is a vital element in the healthcare institution because it contributes to the reduction of the infection rates among the patients. One of the crucial practices is the change of gloves by the medical practitioners while attending to various patients. One of the key elements that justify negligence is the essence of the duty of care. It is the responsibility of the healthcare institution to ensure proper treatment without prolonged pain for the patients. In the case under consideration, Mrs. Smith suffered significant pain while waiting for the pulmonologist to diagnose and affirm the infection. It is the duty of care for the hospital’s staff to deliver effective healthcare services to the patients. However, due to the scarcity of staff, the hospital encountered delays in attending to Mrs. Smith, as required from the essential obligation. The duty of care establishes that it is the mandate of the healthcare practitioners to provide adequate patient information and ensure the safeguarding of the patient’s well-being (Anderson, 2018). The doctor’s use of the same gloves showed a contradiction to the core values of medical hygiene.

Breach of Duty

The case study shows the breach of duty due to the employees’ lack of cautiousness in observing hygiene. An excellent example of a legal case that fostered the importance of highly standardized services is McKowan v. Bentley. Mrs. Bentley visited Dr. McKowan for a simple surgery to reduce obesity. However, Dr. Day and Dr. McKowan poorly observed hygiene during the postoperative care, which made Mrs. Bentley succumb to the infection (Pozgar, 2020). Although the simple surgery posed minimal harm to the patient, poor hygiene and low standards of healthcare services led to the death of Mrs. Bentley. It is the moral responsibility of the medical practitioners to deliver highly standardized healthcare services to the patients.

One of the duties of the healthcare practitioners is to protect the well-being of the patients from dynamic health risk factors. Therefore, the medical professionals should observe proper hygiene to minimize the exposure of the patients to infections. Another case law that justifies the importance of hygiene is Helman v. Sacred Heart Hospital. Helman sued the hospital to the staphylococcus infection despite the distinctive strains from the other patient. He justified his action and decision based on the behavior among the nurses. During the isolation of the other patient after the staphylococcus infection, Helman noticed the frequent use of the same hospital resource, which increased the patient’s exposure to the infections (Pozgar, 2020). The negligence from the nurses in observing hygienic standards affected the confidence level of Helman. In a different spectrum, there was no causation for the staph infection.


Mrs. Smith suffered a profound injury from the negligence by the healthcare practitioners in the hospital. According to Mrs. Smith, her surgery was successful, but the negligent act by the doctor to use the same gloves among all patients put her health at risk. The main goal for the hospital entails the provision of an environment that promotes healthy recovery among the patients. However, Bright Road Hospital renders a dynamic approach towards the mainframe of poor management, such as lower standards of cleanliness. In this case, the poor hygienic standards constituted the core factor behind Mrs. Smith’s injury.

Liability of the Hospital and Recommendations

The hospital is responsible for the welfare of the employees and the patients. However, Mrs. Smith fostered a dynamic overview of the core value of Bright Road hospital’s liability. One of the factors that contributed to the issue of poor hygiene is the undue monitoring mechanism of the employees’ performance. Notably, the doctors showed pride in the assumption of delivering excellent services. It is the duty of the hospital’s management to enhance proper coordination among the employees in enhancing hygienic practices.

It is the liability of the hospital’s management to ensure that the employees access adequate resources and facilities to carry out their duties efficiently. The case study showcases dynamic shortcomings from the employees’ activities, which ultimately created poor hygienic standards. One of the issues that compromised the hygienic standards in the hospital is the location of the washing sinks. There should be a distance between sinks and the patients’ beds to reduce the latters’ exposure to germs by close contact or inhalation. In this case, it is essential that the hospital management restructures the washing areas and improves the policies of healthcare professionals’ contact with the patients and cleanliness practices.

It is the hospital management’s liability to promote proper utilization of the available resource such as gloves. The contact between the patients and the healthcare practitioners increases the risks of poor hygiene, mainly because of the high rates of germs in a hospital. It is crucial for the management of the facility to develop training programs for the health workers. The incorporation of a training program could boost the interaction of the employees despite the different levels of professionalism. During the interview sessions, Dr. Paltrow showed a lack of concern for Mrs. Smith and argued along the gradient of speculations. Additionally, the nurses and colleagues affirmed that Dr. Paltrow took pride in his seniority status in the hospital. The integration of the training program would ensure the optimal interaction among the employees, thus elevating the cooperation in the service delivery despite irrespective of the levels.

In conclusion, negligence is a multifaceted phenomenon that significantly affects the quality of healthcare services. An excellent example of a negligent case is the staph infection of Mrs. Smith, which put her health at risk. The infection resulted from the poor hygienic standards followed by the health practitioners. Although the health workers engaged in standard operations under poor hygienic conditions, it is the liability of the hospital’s management to enhance the healthy routine. Both the employees and the hospital’s management share the common liability to deliver highly standardized healthcare services to the patients.


Anderson, D. Q. (2018). In Proceedings of the International Academy of Comparative Law 20th General Congress 2018. Web.

Barnett, N., & Kelly, Ó. (2017). Legal implications of deprescribing: A case scenario. Prescriber, 28(3), 49-52. Web.

Pozgar, G. D. (2020). Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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