Hospital Accused of Negligence in Failure to Diagnose MRSA Case

Article posted on:11/01/2007

As first reported by Newsday on Tuesday, Aileen Rivera, a New York mother, announced plans to file a $25-million dollar lawsuit against Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York for "negligence, recklessness and carelessness", stemming from an emergency room doctor's failure to diagnose her 12-year-old son, Omar, with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA. Instead, the doctor gave Omar an over-the-counter antihistamine and sent him home. Two days later, Omar was dead. The hospital has said that Omar did not exhibit symptoms of MRSA when his mother brought him to the emergency room.

MRSA is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics commonly used to treat these ordinary types of infections.   Generally speaking, MRSA infections occur in hospitalized patients as MRSA generally "breeds" in these settings.  Other common settings include nursing homes and dialysis centers.  Common symptoms associated with MRSA include small red bumps on the skin that quickly turn into painful abscesses that require draining by surgical means. If these abscesses are allowed to fester untreated, they are prone to bury deep within the body causing potentially life threatening conditions in the bones and joints and bloodstream of the patient.   MRSA can progress significantly within 24-48 hours of initial topic symptoms.  After 72 hours it can take hold in human tissues and become resistant to  treatment. 

At present MRSA infections still respond to some antibiotics.  Other means of treatment may include the draining of the superficial abscess that gave rise to the infection in the first place. 

People considered to be at risk for MRSA include persons with weak immune systems, diabetics, intravenous drug users, young children, the elderly, people hospitalized or staying in a nursing home or other health related facility for a long period of time, people who spend long periods of time in a confined space with other people, people who spend long periods of time in gyms or health facilities, veterinarians, livestock handlers and pet owners. 

Common warnings and precautions to take so as to avoid contracting MRSA in a hospital setting include washing one's hands frequently, keeping wounds covered, not sharing personal items such as razors or clothes, showering or bathing regularly and sanitizing linens and bedding. 

Although the contraction of MRSA in and of itself usually does not give rise to a medical malpractice case (in some instances they can if it can proved that negligence caused the contraction of the infection), the failure to timely diagnose a patient with MRSA and/or treat that patient can give rise to such lawsuits.  MRSA is an extremely virulent infection that can affect a person's life for years on end.  It must be timely diagnosed and treated in order for a patient to have the ability to quickly rid his or her body of the infection.   If you or a loved one have contracted MRSA but were not timely diagnosed or treated, call the lawyers at STSW for a free consultation or visit our website to set up your free consultation.