Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. It is an infection that can be fatal if not properly treated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after researchers analyzed cases in New York City and 20 other jurisdictions, the bacterium linked to Legionnaires’ disease was found in a number of health care facilities. In fact, of the jurisdictions they studied, they found 16 of them had some cases that came directly from hospitals.
Because the disease resembles less dangerous types of pneumonia, it is important that health care facilities use basic diagnostic tests. However, many do not do so, said a CDC representative. People contract Legionnaires’ disease by breathing droplets of contaminated water, which can come from cooling towers, water-therapy baths and spas, shower heads and various medical equipment. Symptoms resemble common forms of pneumonia, including fever, headaches, shortness of breath, coughing and muscle aches. The majority of healthy individuals who become exposed to the disease generally do not develop it. However, it can be deadly for those with secondary health issues, such as a weak immune system.
Compared with hundreds of thousands of cases of common types of pneumonia, Legionnaires’ disease is rare, with about only 6,000 cases reported annually. However, the numbers are dramatically rising. The CDC found that from 2000 to 2015, logged cases of the infection increased by more than four times.
When seeking treatment, many patients with serious medical conditions trust their lives to physicians and medical facilities. However, when they are harmed by the negligence of hospital personnel, they might want to meet with an attorney to see what recourse they might have.
Source: Consumer Reports, "What You Need to Know About Legionnaires’ Disease", Jeneen Interlandi, June 6, 2017