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Connellsville man awarded $50K for rolling over needle in hospital bed, fears infectious diseases

| Friday, April 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Fayette County man who said he fears he was exposed to diseases from a needle stick while a patient in a Connellsville hospital has been awarded $50,000.

Brad Allen Dillinger of Connellsville filed a civil action in 2009, contending he was stuck in his right arm by a needle of unknown origin while recovering from surgery at Highlands Hospital. Dillinger had just been transferred to another room when he rolled over in bed and was stuck, according to court documents.

Dillinger contended the hospital was negligent by failing to test the needle for infectious diseases and never advised him of the needle's origins, among other reasons.

He has tested negative several times for HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases since, but he remains in fear of contracting an illness, according to the lawsuit.

In court documents, the hospital argued that the needle was of the type used only to inject medications into IV bags and never would have come into direct contact with another patient, according to the documents.

The case went to arbitration, and a panel of three attorneys awarded Dillinger $50,000, plus costs, on March 27, according to court documents.

The hospital has 30 days to appeal. No one from the law firm that represents it in the case, Dickie, McCamey and Chilcote of Pittsburgh, returned a phone call seeking comment on Thursday.

Dillinger's attorney, Nicholas L. Fiske of Pittsburgh, said the award sends a message to hospitals.

“Hospitals are responsible for taking care of their patients and ensuring their safety,” Fiske said. “He was stuck with a needle, and they threw it away and didn't do anything.”

Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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