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Hospitals and doctors no longer have the luxury of saying a hospital acquired infection cannot be prevented. In a tragic case, David Fitzgerald had both arms and legs amputated after contracting a MRSA infection following surgery for ulcers at RHD Memorial Medical Center in Farmers Branch, Texas. This is the third case featured in Lawyers USA in the last few months concerning a MRSA infection…so clearly the tide is changing.

According to an article in Lawyers USA, the Texas jury returned a verdict for $17.5M. When are hospitals and doctors going to learn it is more economical for them to start implementing standard procedures to prevent and treat these MRSA infections not to mention saving the lives of their patients?

Whatever happened to the edict, “First, do no harm.” As early as 1997, medical journals were addressing the problems of antimicrobial resistant strains of microorganisms. In Infection Control Hospital Epidemiol, the authors wrote, “A comprehensively applied infection control program will interdict the dissemination of resistant strains.” Why then are so many patients becoming infected with these superbugs?

Even though bacteria possess a remarkable number of genetic mechanisms for resistance to antimicrobials, standard precautions for hospitals are not being implemented. New data indicate that the spread of MRSA in hospitals where such strains are not endemic can be controlled by isolating infected and colonized patients, but this is being done in only a few hospitals.

Hospitals should consider instituting isolation precautions for patients colonized or infected with multiply resistant microorganisms. According to the SHEA Position Paper, “This seems most important for hospitals where resistance is not yet perceived to be a problem, because it is in such hospitals that the emergence of resistance will have the greatest impact on quality and cost of patient care.”

Is your hospital following these basic recommendations?

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