A Texas man who lost both of his arms and legs to a hospital acquired infection infection, called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus also known as MRSA, has been awarded $17.5 million by a Texas jury. After medical malpractice caps are applied, the plaintiff could collect up to $7.5 million from the doctor, an infectious-disease specialist who treated the infection in 2003. The doctor had treated the plaintiff six years ago when he developed an infection following ulcer surgery at a hospital in Texas. The doctor administered eight antibiotics to Fitzgerald but not the one drug that would have treated MRSA. The hospital-acquired infection is resistant to several common antibiotics and can become deadly if it spreads and is not treated quickly.
As a result of the malpractice, the patient went into septic shock, which caused irreparable damage to his limbs. By the time the infection was diagnosed and treated, gangrene had set in, requiring the removal of both arms below his elbows and both legs below his knees.
In the past year, there has been a number of multi-million dollar medical malpractice verdicts involving hospital acquired infections. For example, in July, a couple was awarded $2.5 million in Missouri after the husband developed MRSA and then lost a foot, leg and kidney. Subsequently, in November, a Massachusetts jury awarded $13 million to the family of a woman who died from a flesh eating infection. After that, in November, a woman reached a confidential settlement after filing a $16 million suit after a Utah hospital failed to diagnose flesh eating bacteria before she gave birth. This caused her to lose three limbs and several organs.
Hopefully, these awards award will be a reminder to doctors and hospitals that it is important for them to recognize and treat MRSA as quickly as possible before a patient develops septic shock. Nobody should go through this.