Patient sues NHS trust over hospital superbug

  1. Patient sues NHS trust over hospital superbug

    Fri 9 Jul 2004


    A PATIENT infected by the MRSA superbug while receiving hospital treatment has begun a landmark legal action against North Glasgow NHS trust.

    Elizabeth Miller, 67, is seeking up to 20,000 in compensation, claiming that poor hygiene in Glasgow Royal Infirmary caused her to contract the infection.

    Mrs Miller was admitted to hospital for routine heart surgery in October 2001, and claims her health is still suffering as a result of contracting staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as the MRSA superbug, while undergoing treatment.

    Her case has the support of Professor Hugh Pennington, one of Scotland's leading bacteriologists, who came to prominence during the 1996 Lanarkshire e-coli outbreak when 21 people died.

    Mrs Miller's lawyers are waiting for legal aid to pursue the test case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

    If successful, it could open the floodgates for a further 80 claims in Glasgow alone, and hundreds of similar claims across Scotland.

    Mrs Miller, from Kilsyth, was admitted to Glasgow Royal Infirmary almost three years ago for what was supposedly a straight-forward aortic valve replacement when she contracted MRSA.

    As a result, she had to endure a second operation while surgeons re-opened her chest to treat the infection.

    She said: "MRSA has really thrown me back. Had I been taken care of properly I should have been out in less than ten days and that would have been it.

    "I shouldn't have needed the second operation. I am so angry. They gave me this thing. I didn't bring it with me."

    Cameron Fyfe, the leading Glasgow-based litigation lawyer, is taking Mrs Miller's case to the Court of Session, and says he has more than 80 others waiting to make similar claims if the test case is successful.

    "Mrs Miller went in for a heart operation and got MRSA, which they then had to treat. It is hard to imagine a more important case for health boards," he said.

    A spokeswoman for North Glasgow University Hospitals said she could not comment on individual cases.
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  3. by   leslie :-D
    i applaud mrs. miller. knowledge is indeed power.
  4. by   ktwlpn
    but aren't the latest studies showing that mrsa can be found anywhere? i have read that over 75% of healthcare workers are colonized and it is thought that much of the general public is also....isn't infection a known risk of any surgical procedure? i feel sorry for the pt but i think she is looking for a pot of gold..........mrsa - methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus
    fact sheet the centers for disease control and prevention (cdc) has received inquiries about infections with antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus aureus (including methicillin-resistant s. aureus [mrsa]) among persons who have no apparent contact with the healthcare system. this fact sheet addresses some of the most frequently asked questions.

    what is staphylococcus aureus?

    staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as "staph," are bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. occasionally, staph can cause an infection; staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infections in the united states. most of these infections are minor (such as pimples and boils) and most can be treated without antibiotics (also known as antimicrobials or antibacterials). however, staph bacteria can also cause serious infections (such as surgical wound infections and pneumonia). in the past, most serious staph bacteria infections were treated with a certain type of antibiotic related to penicillin. over the past 50 years, treatment of these infections has become more difficult because staph bacteria have become resistant to various antibiotics, including the commonly used penicillin-related antibiotics (1). these resistant bacteria are called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or mrsa.

    where are staph and mrsa found?

    staph bacteria and mrsa can be found on the skin and in the nose of some people without causing illness. top

    what is the difference between colonization and infection?

    colonization occurs when the staph bacteria are present on or in the body without causing illness. approximately 25 to 30% of the population is colonized in the nose with staph bacteria at a given time (2).
    infection occurs when the staph bacteria cause disease in the person. people also may be colonized or infected with mrsa, the staph bacteria that are resistant to many antibiotics. top

    who gets mrsa?

    staph bacteria can cause different kinds of illness, including skin infections, bone infections, pneumonia, severe life-threatening bloodstream infections, and others. since mrsa is a staph bacterium, it can cause the same kinds of infection as staph in general; however, mrsa occurs more commonly among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities.
    mrsa infection usually develops in hospitalized patients who are elderly or very sick or who have an open wound (such as a bedsore) or a tube going into their body (such as a urinary catheter or intravenous [iv] catheter). mrsa infections acquired in hospitals and healthcare settings can be severe. in addition, certain factors can put some patients at higher risk for mrsa including prolonged hospital stay, receiving broad-spectrum antibiotics, being hospitalized in an intensive care or burn unit, spending time close to other patients with mrsa, having recent surgery, or carrying mrsa in the nose without developing illness (3-6).

    mrsa causes illness in persons outside of hospitals and healthcare facilities as well. cases of mrsa diseases in the community have been associated with recent antibiotic use, sharing contaminated items, having active skin diseases, and living in crowded settings. clusters of skin infections caused by mrsa have been described among injecting drug-users (7,8), aboriginals in canada (9), new zealand (10) or australia (11,12), native americans in the united states (13), incarcerated persons (14), players of close-contact sports (15,16) and other populations (17-23). community-associated mrsa infections are typically skin infections, but also can cause severe illness as in the cases of four children who died from community-associated mrsa (24). most of the transmission in these settings appeared to be from people with active mrsa skin infections. top

    how common is staph and mrsa?

    staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infection in the united states, and are a common cause of pneumonia and bloodstream infections. staph and mrsa infections are not routinely reported to public health authorities, so a precise number is not known. according to some estimates, as many as 100,000 persons are hospitalized each year with mrsa infections, although only a small proportion of these persons have disease onset occurring in the community. approximately 25 to 30% of the population is colonized in the nose with staph bacteria at a given time (2). the numbers who are colonized with mrsa at any one time is not known. cdc is currently collaborating with state and local health departments to improve surveillance for mrsa. active, population-based surveillance in selected regions of the united states is ongoing and will help characterize the scope and risk factors for mrsa in the community. top

    are staph and mrsa infections treatable?

    yes. most staph bacteria and mrsa are susceptible to several antibiotics. furthermore, most staph skin infections can be treated without antibiotics by draining the sore. however, if antibiotics are prescribed, patients should complete the full course and call their doctors if the infection does not get better. patients who are only colonized with staph bacteria or mrsa usually do not need treatment. top

    how are staph and mrsa spread?

    staph bacteria and mrsa can spread among people having close contact with infected people. mrsa is almost always spread by direct physical contact, and not through the air. spread may also occur through indirect contact by touching objects (i.e., towels, sheets, wound dressings, clothes, workout areas, sports equipment) contaminated by the infected skin of a person with mrsa or staph bacteria. top

    how can i prevent staph or mrsa infections?

    practice good hygiene

    1. keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water

    2. keep cuts and abrasions clean and covered with a proper dressing (e.g., bandage) until healed

    3. avoid contact with other people's wounds or material contaminated from wounds.

    what should i do if i think i have a staph or mrsa infection?

    see your healthcare provider.

    what is cdc doing to address mrsa in the community?

    cdc is concerned about mrsa in communities and is working with multiple partners on prevention strategies.

    cdc is working with 4 states in a project to define the spectrum of disease, determine populations affected, and developing studies to define who is at particular risk for infection
    cdc is working with state health departments to assist in the development of surveillance systems for tracking mrsa in the community
    cdc is using the national health and nutritional evaluation survey (nhanes) to estimate the number of individuals in the united states who carry staph bacteria in their nose
    cdc works with laboratories across the country to improve the detection of mrsa through training personnel and use of appropriate testing methods
    cdc provides technical expertise to hospitals and state and local health departments on infection control in healthcare settings, including control of mrsa
    cdc laboratories are working to characterize the unique features of mrsa strains from the community.

    >it's scary,isn't it?
    Last edit by ktwlpn on Jul 10, '04
  5. by   leslie :-D
    i appreciate her taking a stand and do not perceive her as going for the pot of gold because when there are reporting of hundreds of thousands of PREVENTABLE infections, then why should the patient pay for it? it's highly probable that the mrsa developed secondary to cross contamination, which could be you see what i'm saying? i'm thinking that the hospital should be accountable....

  6. by   donmurray
    ktwlpn has it right, it's sad that this woman's wound got infected, but she could have sneezed and infected it herself, the bug is so common. The irony of this case is that she is waiting for legal aid to pursue the case. That means that she can't afford to, so the UK government will pay for lawyers to sue one of its own departments, and should they win, the Hospital trust will then pay out government funds which could have been spent on better hygiene!

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing! (not to say expensive!)
  7. by   donmurray
    And another thing!

    I'm an idiot who double-posted! :chuckle
    Last edit by donmurray on Jul 10, '04