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Doctors’ Responsibilities to Patients Increase During an Outbreak

Doctors and medical professionals must safeguard their patients. That responsibility will never change. However, that duty becomes more important when there is an outbreak of a dangerous illness.

The latest outbreak of measles has been all over the news. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the outbreak has spread here to Indiana. While the CDC determined that the cause of these most recent cases of measles stem from travelers from other countries, hospitals and doctors are not off the hook. They could still be liable for how they handle the outbreak.

Negligence could expose patients to measles

While hospital negligence is not the root cause of the outbreak, it could make the circumstances worse. The highest risk that hospital patients face is exposure to measles.

Patient safety should always be the hospital’s top priority. There are two substantial consequences if hospitals do not meet their duty to protect patients from the outbreak:

  1. An individual patient’s symptoms or condition could worsen if they contract measles.
  2. The outbreak could spread farther and infect more vulnerable patients if hospitals cannot contain it.

And these two consequences could add up to many more.

Taking precautions is essential

Hospitals must take considerable measures to protect other patients from exposure to the disease. The CDC outlines specific precautions for hospitals. These precautions include:

  • Providing masks for both infected and noninfected patients
  • Cleaning and disinfecting rooms, linens and surfaces more often
  • Testing and screening patients consistently

It is up to the hospitals to protect patients and their families alike during an outbreak. If they do not take the proper steps to prevent the infection from spreading, it is negligence.

This article is for educational purposes only.

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