Talk about Res Ipsa Loquitor! This 60 year old male was admitted for a high potassium level, was stabilized and developed MRSA pneumonia...resulting in his death within 48 hours.
I was an ICU RN for 11 years then became a Maser's Degree Nurse Practitioner. I watched as the nursing and medical staff never washed their hands, and they used the same BP cuff and machine on every patient..rolling it from room to room.
He died this morning and the doctors convinced the wife not to get an autopsy! "We all know what he died from." I almost spit out "Yeah! Malpractice and negligence! Lack of aseptic technique!" The nurses didn't even wash hands when they changed dressings on his central line.
People act as if "just one of those things! I did contact nearby CDC and told them of problem.
It all depends. Malpractice requires that the madeical practitioner have perfmormed blow the standard of care for his medical field in the given community. So, simply put, if the usual and customary practice is to roll the cuff from room to room without sanitizing it each time, and that is the common practice amoungst hospitals in your area, that does not necessarily rise to the level of mapractice despite everyine knowing that it should not be done that way. Malpractice is a very tough nut to crack. Consult an attorney for a free consultation and see what your local counsel has to say on the subject.
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MRSA infections within a healthcare setting has been an area of great concern to the industry since just about forever! You did right in notifying CDC, but neither of us will hold our breaths to see if they do anything about it! So, since we can expect Carroll County to cover up as much as possible to avoid liability and since we will need expert testimony to even think about filing the lawsuit, the best thing to do now is use the time now available under prevailing limitations statutes to gather research for which use only the future will determine. As a Georgia lawyer and you a Georgia medical professional, we both know what we are up against.
I am an attorney, practicing throughout the state of Georgia, but primarily in the areas around Augusta, Statesboro and Savannah, Georgia. You may review more information about my practice by going to: http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/30809-ga-elmer-young-540135/reviews.html. The information I am providing you should only be considered for your general knowledge and educational purposes. Consider it as a good first step in your knowledge acquisition, but not as legal advice. Indeed, any information I provide is based on the extremely limited facts you have provided and new facts could substantially alter any answer or reply. My opinion should be understood to apply only to the laws of the State of Georgia. You should always consult with a local attorney about your situation if you live outside of the State of Georgia.
I do not think there is a valid medical negligence claim. Nice reference to "res ipsa," but most states specifically do not allow res ipsa proof in medical malpractice claims.
It's not enough in the law to simply show that errors were made (such as not washing hands, etc). A plaintiff must also be able to show direct evidence that the lack of aseptic protocol directly led to the MRSA pneumonia. Further, you'd have to prove that he wouldn't have acquired it anyway. This is usually an impossible task. MRSA is at epidemic levels in modern American medicine. It spreads through hospitals even when wonderful aseptic strategies are employed. A quick google search on this issue will render a wealth of detail. For lawyers and plaintiffs that are required to sustain the burden of proof in court, we're simply never able to say, "Nurse A had MRSA on her hand but she didn't wash it off...then she touched the patient...the patient then acquired the bacteria...and this can be proved with cultures from the nurse's hand as well as the sputum cultures from the patient."
This will probably be a difficult case but that doesn't mean that your friend should not pursue it. I suggest she contact the two Georgia lawyers who have responded on this forum and determine whether or not they or one of their colleagues is willing to investigate further. Good Luck
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