During the coronavirus pandemic, we have all become acutely aware of disease prevention, but CDC standards for disease prevention in healthcare facilities, including podiatry offices, have existed for decades. At Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York where we fight for the rights of patients who have been victims of podiatry malpractice, we are very concerned with such matters since many cases of malpractice stem from negligent behavior in regard to sanitation and sterilization.
If you feel that your podiatrist’s office practices substandard infection prevention, the time to address the issue is now, hopefully before you yourself become a victim of this insidious type of podiatry malpractice.
If you have questions about your podiatry care or believe you have suffered injury or disease because of your podiatrist’s reckless behavior, you should consult with our podiatry malpractice attorney, Lawrence M. Karam, PC, who has many years of successful experience in obtaining compensation for those who have been harmed by negligent podiatric care.
The CDC Sets a High Bar for Infection Prevention
According to the CDC, podiatrists, like other medical professionals, should be leaders in establishing sanitation and sterilization standards through leadership, patient and staff education, and safe practices.
Podiatrists Should Be Leaders in Infection Prevention
Any competent podiatrist should be concerned with preventing the spread of disease by:
- Ensuring that at least one individual trained in infection prevention is under contract to supervise the facility’s infection prevention
- Making sure there are appropriate supplies available (e.g. hand hygiene products, PPE)
- Creating documents for staff that outline infection prevention policies and procedures
- Ensuring that any off-site care is also compliant with infection prevention methods
- Reassessing policies and procedures at least once a year
- Putting a system in place for early detection and management of potential infections
Podiatrists Must Educate Their Patients to Recognize Signs and Symptoms of Infection
Patients must also provide informed consent for any procedure that includes a risk of infection. CDC guidelines instruct podiatrists to make sure that their patients not only understand how to properly clean surgical sites to reduce the risk of infection, but to treat existing disease conditions to avoid spreading germs. In addition, patients must be familiarized with signs (e.g. redness, swelling, or warmth of the affected skin) and symptoms (e.g. pain, fever) of infection and instructed to report such evidence to the doctor immediately.
Beyond this, podiatrists themselves must obey local, state, and federal laws that require reportage of outbreaks of contagious disease to the appropriate health agency. Also, lapses in hygiene protocol must be recorded and corrected promptly, and local or state agencies should be consulted about whether any further steps need to be taken.
Staff Members Must Be Educated and Kept Current with Infection Prevention Procedures
As we have seen with COVID-19, infectious disease outbreaks may overtake us suddenly, so all podiatry staff members must be taught best practices and be instructed about sudden necessary changes to the daily routine. Such instructions should focus on OSHA precautions to protect staff and patients chemical, radiation, and respiratory hazards as well as from biological hazards like bloodborne or airborne pathogens.
In order for everyone in the podiatry office to be on the same page, training should be provided at the time of hire and repeated annually. In addition, new instructions should be given immediately when policies or procedures have to be revised, as during the pandemic. Records of infection prevention training must be maintained and updated as required by federal and state law. It is also necessary to audit staff performance and provide feedback, or discipline if they become negligent.
Errors in Infection Prevention Can Easily Result in Podiatry Malpractice Lawsuits
In spite of regulations and generally good intentions, podiatry practices may not be careful enough to keep their patients safe. The following errors of commission or omission may be grounds for a podiatry malpractice lawsuit:
- Lack of proper hand hygiene (e.g. failure to wash hands or wear gloves)
- Lack of sanitation in bathrooms, waiting areas, examination rooms, surgical sites
- Absence of surgical masks
- Placement of used and unused syringes in close proximity to one another
- Reuse of syringes with new needles
- Improper storage or use of medications
If you have suffered a serious infection as a result of your podiatrist’s negligence or the negligence of a member of your doctor’s staff, you may be able to sue for damages.
Contact Dental & Podiatry Malpractice to find out whether you have a viable case. If you do, you can count on Lawrence M. Karam, PC to litigate aggressively for your right to just compensation for your medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering.