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Russell Nassof, J.D.

Executive Vice President and Founder, RiskNomics LLC

The Legal Side of Legionella and Other Waterborne Pathogens - Is a New Standard of Care Needed for Water Filtration in Health Care?

Abstract: All defendants are not created equal when it comes to liability risk exposure for Legionella and other opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens (OPPPs). Health care facilities have the greatest risk of exposure due to their susceptible patient populations as well as the complexity, diversity and usage of their water systems and potential for patient harm. This discussion will explore basic legal concepts including the standard of care and liability exposure for negligence for failure to protect patient invitees from harm. It will review criteria necessary for a valid Legionella and/or other waterborne pathogen exposure claim. The focus of this presentation however will be on prevention and risk response and what is necessary to meet the standard of care. In many hospitals today (particularly in Europe), prevention is focused on point-of-use filtration as the standard of care, especially in high-risk patient areas and that trend is starting to take hold in U.S. hospitals as well. We will examine if there is legal justification for the implementation of point-of-use filtration on a continuous basis in the U.S. and whether, in fact, liability can be established for a failure to use filtration as the evolving standard of care in evidence-based medicine.

Russell Nassof, J.D. Russel Nassof is an attorney with 15 years’ experience in health risk consulting and clinician education, concentrating on infection prevention and risk/liability minimization for health care and medical issues. He has presented to legal, insurance, loss control, health care and risk management groups worldwide and to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. He has served as a consulting/testifying expert on outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, MERS, fungal meningitis and Ebola, was a reviewer on the 2016 Infusion Therapy Standards of Practice and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Association for Vascular Access.