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Rare Bacterial Infection Leads to Severe Brain Damage in Infant – Who is at Fault?

When Myles Massey was born on September 1, 2007, along with his brother, Henry, a medical mystery began to unfold. The twin boys were born prematurely in a Washington state hospital, but it was only Myles who exhibited signs that something was wrong. It took years, but Myles’ family has finally determined the cause of the bacterial infection that overtook his small body, leaving him unable to walk or talk, while sparing his brother who developed normally.
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The Massey’s initial medical malpractice suit filed in 2009, which named the doctor’s and hospital that treated Myles at the time of his birth for his contraction of the rare bacteria, cited poor infection control practices as the cause of his systematic decline. However, despite numerous tests, investigators were never able to link the bacteria to any of the doctors or the hospital.

In early 2011, a company by the name of Triad Group became the subject of an FDA investigation which found that the alcohol prep pads they were manufacturing and distributing were contaminated with the bacteria. It was then that the Massey’s mystery was solved. The hospital where Myles was born confirmed that their neonatal intensive care unit used the Triad alcohol wipes. It’s not clear why Myles was affected by this bacterium while his brother and other infants in the NICU were not, but the alcohol prep pads have been almost conclusively deemed the source of the bacteria found in Myles’ bloodstream. The Massey’s lawsuit, now amended, includes the manufacturers and distributors of the alcohol prep pads.

The rare bacterium, called “bacillus cereus,” is most often a food-borne illness but can attack individual’s with weak immune systems, causing other infections. The alcohol prep pads, which contained the bacterium in this case, have been recalled but were widely distributed and included in things such as, pre-packaged kits used for self-injection of medications.