Health Care Worker Contracts MRSA That Goes Undiagnosed and Requires Complicated Heart Surgery

Michael Talve, CEO

Written by
— Updated on October 2, 2017

heart surgeryThis case involves a 45-year-old woman who contracted a severe MRSA infection most likely while working as a health care provider. She sustained a fall on the job and was originally treated for a lower back sprain and was discharged but over the next few days she became febrile with a rapid pulse, had severe joint pain, and had signs of altered mental health status. The delay in diagnosis resulted in her having to have surgery for a cervical spine abscess, aortic valve surgery for septic emboli, and joint surgery for septic joints.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. How likely is it that this person contracted MRSA in the hospital setting?

Expert Witness Response E-000507

The general population has a MRSA colonization rate of 1%. Certain groups (i.e. prisoners, people in crowded urban living centers) may have rates of 5-10% colonization. General healthcare workers have only been shown to have a 2% colonization rate, with the emergency department staff’s highest rate as high as 5%. These are the low statistics that would be cited against the plaintiff having occupational MRSA. I would like to know whether an open wound injury is involved, which would be necessary for MRSA to breach the skin. Alternatively, depending on the length of hospital stay, IV sites, etc, MRSA may have been hospital-acquired. However, the rates of new acquisition MRSA infections are often Quality Assurance protected information, with the exception of some states that require reporting. If there were more circumstances of potential MRSA acquisition or violation (i.e. length of IV site), it might be possible to determine a cause and effect relationship.

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