Woman dead for Klebsiella, ASL sentenced to compensate 800 thousand euros

Woman dead for Klebsiella, ASL sentenced to compensate 800 thousand euros

TARANTO- Woman dead for Klesbiella, Taranto Local Health Authority sentenced to pay 800 thousand euros. It sets precedents the sentence of conviction towards the ASL of Taranto because it is held responsible for the death of one of its patients due to an infection contracted in hospital. The infection called Klesbiella refers to the many cases that also occurred in the Perrino hospital in Brindisi where the relatives of some deceased opened a lawsuit against the health company, just to check if it was responsible for the death of their loved one. In the case of Tarano, very similar to those of Brindisi, the ASL was ordered to compensate the damages reported by the relatives of a patient who died following an infection contracted during the hospital stay. In particular, the bacterium that affected the patient is called Klebsiella, it is easy to transmit in hospital places characterized by incorrect environmental sanitation, irregular prophylaxis, or by a "failure" of the chain of preventive acts that must be put in place to ward off pathogenic contamination.

The case
The case examined by the Court of Taranto concerns a patient who, following a fall from a ladder, on which she had climbed to dismantle some curtains inside her home, reported a cervical facial trauma. The aforementioned lady, who underwent a first cervical decompression surgery and, subsequently, two further operations of external ventricular derivation on the right and then on the left, died after a few days following a meningo-encephalic infection from Klebsiella Pneumoniae.

The heirs, represented by the lawyer Vito Cito, appealed to the Court to assert the liability of the ASL which, constituted in court, asked for the rejection of the claim for damages they proposed.

The sentence
The Court of Taranto, with the judgment n.2241 / 2019, stated that, once the nosocomial (i.e. hospital) nature of the infection due to the presence of a Klebsiella bacterium in the hospital setting has been ascertained, the responsibility is to be attributed to the institution, if it is not proven by the latter the observance of the common rules of diligence and prudence necessary to avoid the unfortunate outcome.

In particular, he found that " the responsibility of the healthcare facility for damage suffered by the patient is contractual in nature, since acceptance in hospital for hospitalization or an outpatient visit involves the conclusion of a contract, subject to the ordinary rules on non-fulfillment enshrined in art. 1218 cc. By virtue of this contract, the structure is required to provide the patient with a complex, generically defined health care service, which includes, in addition to the main medical service, also a series of protection and accessory obligations (….) Consequently, in the compensation proceedings of the damage caused by medical activities, the plaintiff has the burden of attaching and proving the existence of the relationship of care, the damage and the causal link, while he has the burden of attaching (but not proving) the fault of the doctor; it is the responsibility of the healthcare facility, however, to demonstrate that the possible failure of the intervention, compared to what was agreed or reasonably reliable, depended on a cause not attributable to itself ".

Therefore the Judge highlighted that in the case in point the ASL had not shown "lobservance of the universally recognized protocols as effective for the prevention of infections in the hospital environment, from which only the non-attributability of the infectious complication to conduct positively referable to the healthcare facility can derive".

Conclusions
The Court ascertained the nosocomial origin of the infection that caused the patient's death and, not having the ASL proved that his death was not due to a cause attributable to himself, he accepted the request for compensation proposed by the relatives of the deceased patient , condemning the ASL to pay the total sum of about 800.000 euros, plus litigation costs.

"The factual situation examined by the Court of Taranto does not only characterize the hospital structure in Taranto but many other ASL present throughout the Italian territory- explains the lawyer Vitale- As an example, in 2015 investigations were initiated by the prosecutor on the death of several patients occurred at the Perrino hospital in Brindisi resulting from the contraction of Klebsiella infection. Regardless of the ascertainment of any crimes, it is important to note the importance of this sentence of the Court of Taranto which opens the way to compensation for the damages suffered by patients affected by hospital infections ".