Jury Awards MRSA Victim $7.5 Million

 

A Texas jury has rewarded a former maintenance man $17.5 million after he lost all his limbs to a MRSA infection following surgery in 2003. However, due to medical malpractice caps, the man will only receive $7.5 million. The award was for pain, mental anguish and physical impairment.

The victim underwent surgery at RHD Medical Center in Farmers Branch where he was treated with eight antibiotics, but not the type that treats MRSA. MRSA, or Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, is a type of infection usually developed in health care settings. Most often called “staph,” which is found on the skin or in the nose of about a third of the population, the bacteria is most often harmless. If the bacterium enters the body through a cut or wound, it will most often only cause a minor skin problem if the individual is healthy. Those who have weakened immune systems, such as the elderly or those in hospitals, can develop serious illnesses. It has also lately been found in otherwise healthy segments of the population, and strains have shown resistance to antibiotics. This gives MRSA a “superbug” designation.

Some of the major risks of developing health care-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA) include:

  • Hospital stays of 14 days or more for patients with burns, surgical wounds, or other underlying problems. An Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology estimated in a 2007 report that 46 of every 1000 people who are hospitalized are infected or colonized with MRSA
  • Invasive medical devices such as catheters, dialysis, or those on feeding tubes have a higher risk
  • Recent use of antibiotics from the fluoroquinolone family (levofloxacin, ofloxacin, ciprocloxacin) or cephalosporin antibiotics
  • Living at a long term care facility can increase risk because carriers of MRSA can spread the bacteria, even if they are not sick themselves

The doctor who was ordered to pay the Texas MRSA victim is an infectious-disease specialist. While the doctor’s lawyer has said he will appeal, the victim’s lawyer has stated the cap on the man’s reward is “tragic unfairness.” The 53-year-old victim now lives with his brother and will need assistance for the rest of his life.