Alleged Failure to Properly Treat MRSA
The patient/plaintiff in this case had tooth #16 extracted by the defendant general dentist in April. During the extraction the dentist broke the patient’s buccal bone, and possibly his palate. Four days later, the dentist evaluated the patient and noted a possible infection. The dentist prescribed Augmentin. Nearly three weeks later, the patient returned with continued swelling and pain, and was diagnosed with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
On several occasions from May to December, the patient complained of swelling, pain, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. At the beginning of December, the patient was hospitalized with sepsis for a month. During this period, it was discovered that the MRSA bacteria spread from the patient’s mouth injury to other areas of the patient’s body, including his eyes, left arm, left ankle, neck, and an MRI showed psoas abscess in his spine. In mid-January, an aggressive I&D (incision and drainage) was performed on the patient’s left ankle in an attempt to remove the infected fluid from his joint. In February, an MRI revealed spots on the patient’s spine and further evaluation revealed that the incision from the ankle surgery that was performed the month before was not healing properly. In March, the patient underwent a lateral lumbar interbody fusion and L3-4 corpectomy, where portions of his spine had to be surgically removed from his body and replaced with metal hardware in an attempt to rid his body of infection.
The patient/plaintiff filed a lawsuit naming multiple healthcare providers, including the defendant dentist. The plaintiff alleged that the dentist failed to provide appropriate treatment and medication at the time of the injury, and that the dentist’s negligence in failing to treat the infection aggressively at onset allowed the infection to flourish. The plaintiff argued that the dentist’s failure to treat the MRSA aggressively enough upon diagnosis resulted in the bacteria spreading from the patient’s mouth injury to various locations on the patient’s body, including his eyes, neck, spine, left arm, and left ankle. The lawsuit further alleged that this caused the plaintiff to suffer from severe complications, including prolonged hospitalization, surgery, and permanent injury requiring additional, future surgeries.
The defense was able to present expert witness testimony in favor of the defendant dentist, arguing that the dentist’s actions fell within the accepted standard of care and the dentist’s practice followed recommended infection control practices. The dentist was also able to present documentation that supported his treatment rationale for the patient and the practice’s infection control and sterilization policies and procedures. The court ruled in favor of the defense and the dentist was dismissed from the case.
With permission from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts; Lewis Laska, Editor, 901 Church St., Nashville, TN 37203-3411, 1-800-298-6288.
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