On April 2, the Plaintiff, who was 53 years old at the time, was admitted to the Defendant Hospital for elective cervical laminectomy.
By April 16, the Plaintiff returned because her incision which was painful, red and draining purulent material. Accordingly, the surgeon cultured fluid, which revealed a heavy growth of Staph aureus and, in response, prescribed Dixollixilin. The Plaintiff alleged that the surgeon breached the standards of care by failing to consult with an infectious disease specialist and by utilizing oral antibiotics rather than intravenous antibiotics. Further, the oral antibiotic prescribed was inappropriate for the infection from which she suffered.
Despite antibiotics, the Plaintiff continued to experience redness, wound drainage and severe pain. On May 2, she underwent an MRI of the neck at another area hospital which confirmed the presence of a large abscess in the area measuring by 5 x 3 x 2 centimeters. Her surgeon again saw the Plaintiff on May 11, along with her MRI, yet failed to determine the precise type of abscess, failed to consult with an infectious disease specialist, and simply continued the Plaintiff on the inappropriate oral antibiotics.
By June 18, the Plaintiff required admission to the Defendant Hospital through the emergency department. She underwent a surgical drainage of the cervical abscess, a C5-6 corpectomy and repeat iliac crest allograft due to infected bone and disc. During that confinement, an infectious disease consultation was finally obtained. That consultant indicated that the antibiotic previously prescribed was not sensitive to the bacterial growth that caused the infection and ordered immediate intravenous antibiotic intervention. Subsequent cultures confirmed that the initial staph aureus incisional infection had progressed to a “MRSA” (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) infection, which is extremely dangerous. The Plaintiff alleged that, due to the Defendant’s negligence, the infection seeded itself into her cervical spine as well as her right hip. Notwithstanding triple IV antibiotic therapy for weeks, the infection destroyed the Plaintiff’s hip.
The Plaintiff was readmitted to the Defendant Hospital in which infected areas of the hip joint were removed. Thereafter, despite ongoing intravenous and oral antibiotic therapy, she was still positive for chronic infection. In November, the Plaintiff underwent right total hip replacement, followed by repeated hip dislocations, additional surgery that was unsuccessful, and damage to the opposite hip due to overuse.
The Defendant denied all allegations of negligence, contending that the initial postoperative wound infection was only superficial, merely requiring oral antibiotics. Moreover, the Defendant claimed that the Plaintiff’s hip problems were the result of pre-existing degenerative arthritis, which was documented in the medical records. Finally, the Defendant disputed allegations that the bony destruction of the Plaintiff’s hips was due to infection based on the surgical pathology report of her first hip surgery which proved negative for any organisms in the hip joint or bone.