MRSA is the acronym for a serious type of bacteria that is commonly found in hospitals – methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is a type of Staph infection that has developed immunities to certain types of antibiotics, making it an especially problematic condition.
While it is rare and can be prevented with stringent hygiene policies, several hospitals in Philadelphia have had outbreaks of MRSA. The medical malpractice and personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can represent victims who have suffered from hospital-acquired MRSA.
MRSA: Staph Infections Immune to Certain Antibiotics
Medically speaking, MRSA is any strain of Staphylococcus aureus that has developed a resistance to certain antibiotics. This can happen through genetic mutations or the excessive use of antibiotics that forces Staph bacteria to evolve and develop an immunity to the drugs.
Technically speaking, this immunity to antibodies makes MRSA a “superbug” because it has evolved to survive the drugs that are supposed to be able to kill it.
While MRSA used to be only acquired in hospitals, it has since spread to outside communities. However, the vast majority of MRSA victims still contract the infection in the hospital or another controlled or medical setting, like a prison, the military, or nursing homes.
People who have open wounds are especially susceptible to contracting MRSA, as the skin is often powerful enough to keep the infection out of the body.
Symptoms of MRSA
MRSA often begins as a handful of small, painful red bumps on the skin that resemble bug bites or pimples. In some cases, these skin infections have pus inside them, making them look very similar to pimples and downplaying the severity of the condition. Many people do not think that the infection is more than a zit until it gets deeper and deeper and becomes a fluid-filled abscess.
MRSA infections can be even more problematic if they burrow into the skin rather than rise out of it in the form of an abscess. If the infection burrows, it can infect internal tissues and even organs, causing potentially life-threatening conditions.
In many cases, though, people who have MRSA do not have any symptoms. Instead, they are merely carriers of the bacteria who can pass it on to someone else without knowing it.
Risk Factors for MRSA
There are several risk factors that make people more likely to develop MRSA, and less able to fight it off on their own. People who are especially at risk for contracting MRSA are:
- The elderly, especially if they live in a nursing home
- Children, especially young children in school or daycare
- People with weakened immune systems
- Hospital patients in long-term stays
- Patients who have recently received an implant
- Anyone who has undergone a surgical procedure
- Anyone with an open sore or wound
- People who have injected catheters or who get shots frequently
How to Avoid Contracting MRSA
Because MRSA lives on the skin and inside your nose and is spread through contact with someone carrying the bacteria, using standard hygiene procedures is often enough to keep the bacteria from building up, infiltrating your body, and causing an infection.
One of the best ways to prevent an MRSA development is to wash your hands regularly, especially if you have touched someone else's bodily fluids or an open wound. By washing your hands with soap and water, it sanitizes them and kills any MRSA bacteria that might have gotten on them. If those bacteria are left alone, they could infiltrate your body when you touch a part of your body that is less protected than your hands, like:
- Any laceration or open wound you have or that you get after the MRSA bacteria has gotten on your hands
You can also take steps towards preventing an MRSA contraction by not sharing personal or hygienic items with other people. This is particularly important for items that are used on or near open wounds, or could pierce your skin, like:
- Razor blades
- Hypodermic needles
- Water bottles
Hospital-Acquired MRSA in Philadelphia
Despite these basic precautions that can drastically reduce the risk of the spread of MRSA, hospitals in Philadelphia still seem to struggle to keep the bacteria under control. While they have an uphill struggle, given the number of open wounds and compromised immune systems they have to deal with on a daily basis, most of the work can be done with proper hygiene policies.
Only recently, a hospital in Pittsburgh had an MRSA outbreak. A dozen people, including six infants in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children's Hospital, tested positive for the infection. One of the infants had symptoms of the infection. Six staff members in the hospital were treated for the condition to keep them from spreading it any further.
What You Can Do If You Acquire MRSA at a Hospital
If you visit a hospital in the Philadelphia area and begin to develop the symptoms of an MRSA infection, you should strongly consider getting a doctor outside of the hospital to look at it. Having the infection diagnosed at the hospital can give the doctors there the ability to cover it up and begin the process of insulating themselves from liability for your condition.
Once you have had an independent assessment, you should consider talking to a lawyer if it is MRSA. These infections can require further medical treatment, especially if the infection has gotten serious or has created other medical complications. These complications can cause serious pain and suffering and can take thousands of dollars to treat – thousands of dollars that you would not have had to spend were it not for the hospital's inability to control the bacteria at their facility.
There is no reason why you should be the one who is forced to foot this bill. Talking to a personal injury lawyer at Gilman & Bedigian can be the best way to invoke your rights to compensation. Contact them online if you have acquired an MRSA infection at a Philadelphia hospital.