Legionnaires' hits Wesley

4BC Mornings: The Brisbane hospital where an outbreak of legionnaires' disease has killed a patient could be sued, a class action expert says.

A man, aged 60, died on Sunday and a 46-year-old woman is in intensive care after contracting the disease at the Wesley Hospital in the city's inner west.

Sarah Atkinson, who heads Maurice Blackburn's medical law team, says the hospital is in a tricky legal position.

"An outbreak of legionnaires' like this shouldn't occur in this day and age," she told AAP.

Ms Atkinson said public buildings have a duty of care to make sure water and airconditioning systems are closely monitored.

"If a healthy person contracts legionnaires' it's horrible, but they're not likely to die," she said.

"But if someone is sick in hospital they've got a chance of the disease becoming much more serious and even resulting in death, so I think a hospital would have an even higher duty of care."

Ms Atkinson said if the source of the disease was traced to the water systems at the hospital there would potentially be grounds for a class action suit.

Listen: Dr Matthew Cooper is a leading academic in infectious diseases at the University of Queensland and tells Greg Cary Queensland Hospitals are prone to infections because they do not have compulsory checks of their hot water system. Associate Professor Richard Bentham is one of the few Australian researchers who specialises in the disease and explains its symptoms and how it is contracted.


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