The world of medicine is highly complex and quite challenging for many who study it. Those that choose to become health care workers do so more as a calling rather than a decided subject of choice as it is for the most dedicated people. Being a health care worker whether it is a carer, nurse or physician the job on hand is at times ambitious to say the least and in most cases takes a specific kind of person to do the job precisely. It is not for the faint hearted but those that offer much of their lives up t their profession. Those that work within the health industry provide a service that is needed by people almost at one if not many times in their lives without such a health service that we are so privileged to have people’s health would not be as it is today. Whenever a person is ill or injured one of the first places they go is to seek medical treatment and as such services are often provided around the clock people are sufficiently served.
There are some occasions though when such services are allowed to fall beneath what is expected of and even the slightest of medical errors can cause people to suffer further ill health than they already would of if the service provided would have been at the standard expected. Medical negligence can often occur when a service is being provided by a health care worker that is considered sub-standard and as a result the patient has in some been harmed as a direct result. Such negligence can take place in any area of medicine or the health industry and can often leave people with further ill health.
Medical Negligence has probably been around as long as medicine itself and can take place in a variety of surroundings not just on the grounds of a hospital or within a GP’s surgery. It is possible for it to occur where ever health care treatment is being provided even in a person’s home if a person is being treated health wise there. A health care worker can be responsible for medical negligence and this can be anyone from a carer, nurse, dentist or doctor.
Hepatitis C and Medical Negligence
During1989 Doctor Harvey J. Alter discovered hepatitis C, by this time both hepatitis A and B had already been discovered but as an unknown virus was still showing up in blood tests but were not hepatitis A or B further investigations took place. However up until the early 1990’s people giving blood were still not being screened for hepatitis C which obviously resulted in some of those needing blood transfusions being transferred infected blood containing hepatitis C. It was only during 1992 that precise and accurate testing for hepatitis C occurred. Therefore it can be said that due to the fact that the discovery of hepatitis C was known years before that bloods should have been screened more meticulously and rigorously having known that another virus apart from hepatitis A and B could be present. It can even go further and say that blood screening for any infectious viruses should have been long put in to practice since the discovery of such viruses being present within the blood took place as early as 1960’s.
About Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a serious illness, it is a virus that affects and consequently damages the liver. A person can become infected with hepatitis C if they become in contact with a person’s blood that carries the virus. As there are no noticeable symptoms that the virus is present many do not know that they have the virus until the relevant tests are done or the liver is damaged and that flags up warning signs. If symptoms occur in the few they often reflect flu like symptoms in as much muscles ache and loss of appetite and can often mirror other illnesses. Other symptoms of the virus can include feeling tired and having a feeling of depression.
The bulk of the hepatitis C virus is contained within the blood of the infected person so can be transmitted through equipment such as unsterilized equipment that has come in to contact with the hepatitis C virus such as reused needles and products such as razors and toothbrushes. It can also be transferred through unprotected sex but this is classed as rare and it is more common in North Africa, the Middle East and Central and East Asia. Antiviral medicines can control hepatitis C and stop it from multiplying and prevent liver damage. As there are several types of hepatitis C people are treated differently and even cured form some types of the virus.
During the 1960’s and 1970’s scientist began to notice that people carried virus in their blood known has hepatitis. They discovered two types of hepatitis A and B, which they went on to develop blood testing to identify such types of virus’s. However blood tests showing hepatitis were still coming back with negative readings for A and B so they called these results non A and non B hepatitis. The virus was not identified until the 1989 by Dr Harvey J Alter, who was the Chief of the Infectious Disease section in the Department Transfusion Medicine of the US International Institutes of Health. It was then renamed hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C Screening
Prior to the 1990’s people donating blood were not screened and tested for the hepatitis C virus, it was only in 1992 that the screening became more accurate and precise. Therefore people needing blood transfusions before this time could have come in to contact with the virus. Before the screening took place thousands of people were infected with hepatitis C through blood transfusions, according to hepatitiscnews.com it was estimated that 300,000 Americans contracted hepatitis this way. The Independent states that 4,670 haemophiliacs were given blood transfusions in the UK that were contaminated with the virus. People contracted the disease through no fault of their own so foundations and funds were set up to help people.
People claimed medical negligence compensation as they had contracted a virus due to contaminated blood products while undergoing medical treatment. During 2011 a review by the UK Government of how much compensation such victims went underway. It was announced that apart from the one off payment of 25,000, victims who went on to suffer more serious illnesses connected with the virus would receive another payment of 25,000. Andrew Lansley, the UK Health Secretary went on to make add more funds to those who suffered most.
Still in developing countries and some developed countries there is a problem with blood and blood products that contain hepatitis C. Even surgical equipment alongside reusable glass syringes are not being sterilised correctly and people are still contracting hepatitis C this way.
Law firms are still being contacted by people who have contracted hepatitis C through hospitals. The patients are then wanting to use a medical negligence claims service such as MedicalNegligenceAssist.co.uk. These solicitors can offer free advice to anyone who has been infected with hepatitis C in medical surroundings.
Funds and Foundations
In March 2004 the Skipton Fund was set up in the UK to help and support people who contracted hepatitis C through contaminated blood from treatment received by the NHS that required the need for blood products. During 2011 the Department of Health in the UK funded another charity, The Caxton Foundation which was set up by the British Government to help and support people financially who contracted the hepatitis C virus through infected blood and tissue that was used by the NHS. The American Liver Foundation was set up in 1976 in America to help all people suffering with hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C diagnoses on the rise in the UK
In 2012 the amount of patients diagnosed with hepatitis risen by over one-third to 10,873 cases according to www.gov.uk/government/news/hepatitis-c-diagnoses-rise-by-a-third-in-england as you can see on the link.
Hepatitis C is a disease that affects the liver and can cause serious damage. It often shows no signs but left untreated can have irreversible damage. The signs very often only begin when the liver has been severely affected. If symptoms do occur they tend to be generalised symptoms so can often be looked over or mistaken for something else.
· Flu symptoms i.e. aches and pains
· Tiredness; no energy and the feeling of fatigue
· Weight loss
Hepatitis C is a virus that is contained in the blood and less so often in saliva and bodily fluids. It is mostly transferred through blood to blood. Very often people catch it through the sharing of illegal drug equipment. It can also be caught during unprotected inter course. In some countries it can be transferred through blood transfusions and even through organ transplants. In many countries it is estimated that the majority of infected people get it through IDU (intravenous drug use). Even just using intravenous drug equipment just once people can still get infected. Hepatitis C is more commonly known in developing counties such as East Asia where vaccination equipment is used over again and where surgical equipment is not properly cleaned. It is often more commonly found in prisons where a high percentage of drug use occurs and drug use equipment is used by others maybe at the same time. Tattooing is another risk factor when it comes to hepatitis C as improperly sterilised tattooing equipment can transmit the disease. There is a small risk that transmission can happen during pregnancy. When the pregnant women passes it to the foetus. It is not quite clear when the transmission happens, it could happen during the pregnancy or at the birth.
As there are no specific symptoms people can go unaware that they actually have it. High risks groups such as illegal drug users should be aware that sharing intravenous drug equipment t such as needles can pass such diseases on. Having regular tests can help with long term complications and the sooner it can be detected the more easily it can be treated. Hepatitis C can lead to life changing illnesses such as cirrhosis of the liver or even liver cancer which can be fatal, catching it early can prevent such illnesses. A blood test is used as the testing method.
Treating Hepatitis C
Treatment for hepatitis C in recent years has advanced and the outlook is far better. Antiviral medicines are used to treat it. There are 6 known different strains and some are known to respond better to the medication than others. New medication is evolving all the time and even the strains that were difficult to treat are not so anymore. Treatment is known to cure over half of all cases obviously depending on stage and strain of the illness.
Also visit www.hepatitis.va.gov for useful information on hepatitis. If your from the UK visit www.nhs.uk