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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Lawyers to sue over MRSA

30th November 2006

02082006_MRSA1.jpgBritish lawyers are turning to workplace safety legislation in a bid to claim compensation from the NHS in cases of MRSA.

To date lawyers have found it hard to win cases of clinical negligence as claims require causation to be established which is virtually impossible with MRSA because of a lack of proof over exactly where, when and how the infection is contracted.  However, since an out-of-court precedent was set in 2005, lawyers are now making use of laws governing the control of hazardous substances to plan compensation claims. 

The Control of Substances Harmful to Health (COSHH) regulations require employers to control exposure to hazardous substances to prevent ill health in their staff.   Lawyers now argue that MRSA comes under the definition of a ‘hazardous substance’ and if exposure control applies to hospital staff it should also apply to patients.  The advantage to claimants of using COSHH regulations is that the burden lies with the defendant to prove they are meeting the legal requirements.

MRSA is cited on the death certificates of more than 1,000 people every year, with thousands more left severely ill or disabled by the infection.  People have lost limbs and have had their lives destroyed by the superbug.  The Department of Health refused to comment on whether it thought MRSA claims should be covered by COSHH regulations but a spokesperson commented that in cases where healthcare was negligent it is “reasonable that claims might be made.?

Tony Field, chairman of the MRSA Support victims group, said: "I think this has got the NHS really worried. We should see many more successful claims in the future".


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