Manatee hospital faces suit re contaminated water causing Nurse post-op infection

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friday, january 4, 2002

manatee hospital faces suit

by donna wright

bradenton - a nurse and her husband have sued manatee memorial hospital for medical negligence, charging that the facility failed to ensure its operating rooms and sterile environments remain uncontaminated and free of dangerous infectious organisms and flying and crawling insects.

in court documents filed nov. 21, george lanstrum and his wife, christine, allege christine lanstrum contracted a serious infection via a contaminated water system and pipes on oct. 12, 1999, when she was operated on by dr. andre renard for the insertion of right and left breast implant extenders following mastectomies due to cancer. renard is not named in the suit.

the suit further alleges that the hospital knew of the contaminated water supply and that at least five other patients contracted serious infection, but hospital officials did nothing to correct the problem.

manatee memorial hospital, owned by universal health services acute care co., filed its response dec. 31, denying allegations of a contaminated water supply. the defendant contends it is "without knowledge" of previous cases of infection.

brian t. flynn, manatee memorial chief executive officer, said the hospital does not have a problem with its water supply today.

when asked if the hospital had a problem with its water supply in the past, flynn said he was not aware of one, but that the question was getting into a "touchy area" where he could not comment.

when asked if the hospital has conducted tests on its water supply and if the results would be made public, flynn said that question would have to be answered by the hospital's attorney, matthew d. klein of fort lauderdale.

the suit alleges christine lanstrum, an employee of manatee memorial, was infected during surgery or postoperative recovery with a "mycobacteria other than tuberculosis," or motts, infection. the mycobacteria is a waterborne organism that can spread through water systems and pipes. the organism can easily become airborne and then spread by human or insect transfer.

lanstrum has had to undergo numerous surgeries to cut away dead and infected tissue from her chest, dozens of intravenous therapies, as well as a "trans flap" procedure in which stomach muscles and tissues were used to close the holes left in her chest after the dead tissue was removed, court records state.

the lawsuit claims christine lanstrum has suffered bodily injury and resulting pain and suffering, disability, scarring, disfigurement, mental anguish, physical handicap, loss of the capacity for the enjoyment of life, loss of the ability to earn money in the future and loss of income, and has incurred significant medical expenses.

george lanstrum, as a direct result of the injuries and losses sustained by his wife, claims to have suffered a loss of his wife's consortium, companionship and comfort.

the lanstrums are seeking undisclosed damages in excess of $15,000.

an affidavit signed by jose estigarribia, a bradenton surgeon, and filed with the lawsuit attests to personal knowledge of at least two other surgical patients at manatee memorial who developed the same mycobacteria infection in the year prior to lanstrum's surgery. his knowledge, estigarribia says, comes from having "a physician-patient relationship with the two."

another affidavit signed by carol rydel, a certified registered nurse anesthetist under contract with the hospital, confirms that at least two other patients, operated on by another surgeon, had the same mycobacteria infection lanstrum developed.

both estegarribia and rydel say in their affidavits they believe lanstrum got the infection in the hospital.

donna wright, health and social services reporter, can be reached at 745-7049, or at dwright@bradenton

"mycobacteria other than tuberculosis," or motts, infection---not a usual post op infection, very nasty fungal infection with necrosis in this case. sending healing thoughts to fla.

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