Sunday, August 8, 2004

Families say hospital unsanitary, unsafe

Three more lawsuits join dozens filed against Louisville facility

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Three more lawsuits have been filed against Jewish Hospital, alleging poor patient care and gross negligence.

The lawsuits filed Friday say the hospital allowed dangerous conditions to exist even though it knew an increasing number of people were getting sick with infections. They claim hospital officials were aware proper procedures weren't being followed as early as 2000 but failed to act.

The hospital has denied the allegations.

The lawsuits filed Friday in Jefferson County Circuit Court were the latest of more than two dozen similar suits that attorney Joseph White has filed against the hospital in the past eight months.

Hank Wagner, president and CEO of Jewish Hospital, told reporters in June that the hospital will aggressively defend the suits and won't settle any.

"We think this is more of the same, confusing patients and families," Linda McGinity Jackson, a hospital spokeswoman, said Friday. "We definitely believe that we will win in a court of law. We are drawing our line in the sand. We are not going to succumb to frivolous lawsuits."

Each of the families is asking for a trial and compensatory and punitive damages.

One of the three lawsuits filed Friday alleged wrongful death - the seventh such suit White has filed against the hospital.

Jesse Walters claims in the suit that his wife, Shirley, was a patient for a month last August. During her stay, Walters alleges, she was infected with bacteria known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and died May 23.

Among other allegations in the lawsuits: patients being placed in rooms before the rooms were cleaned; an insufficient number of nurses and cleaning staff; blood and feces left on floors and walls; and staff failing to wash their hands or wear masks or gloves when they should.

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