While tuberculosis (TB) is nowhere near as common as it once was in our country, the risk of a TB outbreak remains a serious concern. This is especially true in hospitals and other healthcare facilities where the disease can be readily spread among patients and workers in tight, enclosed areas such as patient rooms or treatment rooms. Because the disease can be deadly, it is important to get treatment right away.
Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., has recently received a number of calls from Chicago area individuals who have been diagnosed with TB. They believe they were exposed while in the care of a local medical facility.
To get you started, we’ve included some general information on TB below.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease. It is caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium turberculosis. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the disease is spread through the air by inhaling the TB bacteria. When a person with active TB disease coughs, sneezes, spits or simply speaks, others may breathe the TB bacteria and become infected. At first, the bacteria reach and infect the lungs. The disease can then spread through the body to areas such as the kidney, spine and brain.
There are three ways TB outbreaks can occur in hospitals:
The chief concern with tuberculosis is that it only takes a small concentration of the bacteria to infect a person. That’s why it can trigger an outbreak if not addressed quickly and effectively.
The CDC says people with weak immune systems are highly susceptible to active TB disease. These individuals include babies and small children as well as individuals suffering from:
According to the American Lung Association (ALA), a person with active TB disease may display the following symptoms:
Because these symptoms can arise with other types of disease, the ALA says it is crucial to undergo testing for TB if one has reason to believe that they have contracted the disease. The two most common tests are:
Chest X-rays and samples of sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs) may also be used to test for tuberculosis.
If you have only a TB infection but not active TB disease, then you may undergo preventative therapy that involves taking daily amounts of a drug called isoniazid (INH) for a period of 6 to 9 months, the CDC says.
If you have active TB disease, you may require hospitalization for a brief period and placed on an extended medication schedule that may last from 6 to 12 months after you return home. The medication may include taking isoniazid (INH) along with other drugs such as rifampin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol. These drugs will help to fight the TB bacteria in your body.
In some cases, people may suffer from side effects and complications after consuming these drugs. Also, because TB is contagious, a person with active TB disease may need to stay isolated for a long period while undergoing treatment. It may take weeks or months before the person is able to return to school or work. This can lead to a serious disruption in one’s life, harm a person’s income and lead to other problems such as stress, anxiety and depression.
If you or a loved one has contracted tuberculosis while being treated at a hospital, you should contact a Chicago hospital infection lawyer immediately to learn about your legal rights and options. An attorney can help you to secure funds that can pay for your medical treatment and compensate you for other financial, physical and emotional harm you have suffered.
To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., today at our toll-free number or use our quick contact form. We serve medical negligence victims throughout Chicago, Waukegan, Cook County, Lake County and across Illinois. We can review your case, discuss your options and get to work on securing the compensation you deserve.