MRSA: Victimization and Shooting the Messenger

Yesterday’s post, where I told the stories of three (+2) victims of MRSA infections, raised ire, blame and excuses from commentators and emailers alike.

Never mind that they were stories of five people who are infected with MRSA, one of whom has basically been left to die. Never mind that the frustration levels of these patients while trying to get treatment are over the top. Never mind that these people are victims of dirty medicine — the kind where guidelines and controls exist, but are ignored in too many places. The negative comments were aimed at me — it’s easier, after all, to shoot the messenger.

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7 Responses to “MRSA: Victimization and Shooting the Messenger”


  1. 1 TJ January 10, 2008 at 9:55 am

    I do hate the word, “Victim” because it takes away all our power. Do I think these patients that have contracted MRSA deserve the best possilbe care? Absolutely! But I also believe that patients need to become savvy consumers for their own healthcare needs. What you don’t know CAN kill you. My parents generation revered physicians as gods, their professional judgement was never to be questioned but the reality is that only you can protect yourself and only you, the healthcare consumer, can use your power to hold these physicians/facilities accountable. Make sure the physician is board certified in his/her specialty, make sure the facility is accredited or Medicare certified and has met a nationally recognized set of safety standards, ask for rate of infection reports from the hospital or ASC and EDUCATE YOURSELF so you can ask the appropriate questions about procedures, risk management, infection rates, anesthesia complications/risk and get a second opinion if you are not 100 percent satisified with the answers. Ask questions and make educated choices!! Yes, you do have a choice if who and where you go for treatment!!
    Write or call your state legislators, hospital/ASC administrators, state medical boards, DOH, national accrediting bodies, better business bureau and the local media. and report, report, report! If you have a bad experience, don’t assume that things will change on their own. If you have used a physician or facility and received poor care, found sub-standard conditions, acquired an infection………shout it from the rooftop and get the word out so others will be aware that it is not a safe environment to get treated in! Protect yourself as much as possible but if you encounter sub-standard care, don’t just take it, fight back! YOU are your own best patient advocate! AND the next patient may be spared a bad experience.

  2. 3 Perrin January 10, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Trisha,
    Do not presume to lecture to me about patient safety and shooting the messenger.

    My own personal history includes a medical injury and deliberate falsification of my chart to make it look like no one knew an injury had occurred. The facts eventually came out during a confidential settlement, which included a signed agreement by me not to pursue criminal negligence charges against the two nurses involved.

    If anyone should be appalled at the dishonesty of the health care profession, it’s me.

    But I try to stay away from the blame game. Situations can be complicated and we don’t always know all the facts. I recognize that for you as a blogger, it can be difficult to convey all the facts and nuances within a single post. The additional information you provide in your most recent post does help clarify the picture somewhat.

    I tried to be polite in my responses to you. I tried to stick to the facts. The other responders were polite and professional as well. Speaking only for myself, my intention was never to “shoot the messenger” or “blame the victim.” Clearly you believe otherwise, and I’m sorry for that.

    I think we could have had some lively, interesting discussions about some of these issues – but not when you react with anger and defensiveness to people who disagree with you or your tactics. So I guess this conversation is over.

  3. 4 Joe Schmoe January 27, 2008 at 1:47 am

    I’ve worked for a large state hospital in nursing for many years, until this year, and I can tell you I have been disgusted by what I have seen. I’ve even known many patients who have died from both secondary MRSA AND Clostridium Difficile (C-DIFF) hospital acquired infections. I shouldn’t leave out VRE (Vacomyicin Resistant Enterococcous); these three are the major hospital acquired infections.

    Many healthcare workers attempt to cut time by cutting corners; and this includes the cleaning staff responsible for disinfecting the rooms after the patients are discharged. Frequently, the cleaning is substandard. A single occupancy room, used as an “isolation” room for an MRSA infected patient, does not get the proper cleaning after the patient is discharged into the community (often times WITH the MRSA infection, out into the public).

    So in addition to nursing and physician staff that don’t follow proper hand washing and sterile field procedures, you have cleaning staff also cutting corners. Part of this has to do with being so overwhelmed by being understaffed for the level of care; they believe that they can work faster if they just cut one little corner, no harm done, right? In their minds anyway, and doctors and nurses alike convince themselves of that. I shudder at the dirty white coats doctors are so fond of wearing, as a symbol of status-the germs I can imagine swimming on those things are enormous. Why change your hospital scrubs every day, or several times a day, if your just going to put a dirty jacket over it? Make sense to anyone?

    Furthermore, let’s talk about inpatient physical therapy rooms. How often are they disinfected? Patients with open wounds and seeping wounds frequent these places, share mats and equipment, with very little to no disinfection in between. What about the wheelchairs shared between patients, with no disinfecting in-between? Or, the sharing of a bathroom in a double patient room. I’m sure these are not good practices. Privacy curtains are not changed between patients, even though they are frequently touched by dirty physician and nurse hands, pulling the curtain back for a patient’s privacy, but also spreading germs… ready for the next patient.

    My best and most disgusting observation is the operating room one. In the OR, many surgeons choose to use cloth drapes over the patient instead of the paper drapes; not much of a problem, except that the surgeons actually STAPLE the cloth drapes DIRECTLY TO THE PATIENT!!! So you get not only disrespect of a human being’s body in lieu of physician preference, but you also get an additional wound here and there from the staples they used, which opens your body up for more entry sites for infection. Sometimes, I have found the staples STILL stapled to the patient on return from recovery; they didn’t even bother taking them out, just ripping the cloth drapes off the patient!! I only touched on a few items I have personally experienced/seen. The more people know, the more empowered they will be. Hopefully, we can make our hospitals and health care safer.
    Cheers.

  4. 5 Sandy June 23, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I found all of the posts to be both informative. I am watching my mother suffer tremendously as she continues to fight this terrible infection which has kept her hospitalized for the majority of the last three months. The suffering is enormous as she is in pain, vomits continually, struggles with irregular blood pressure and diabetes and is often confused. After multiple surgeries and rounds of treatments with vancomycine (sp.) and a host of other medications, the infection is now in her blood and the doctors suspect it may be in her muscles/bones (awaiting test results). Although her outlook is not good, I feel that others should understand how serious this infection can be and take measures to prevent the spread.

    As I reflect on this incident the doctors claimed it was brought on by poor hygeine which all of us kids found odd based on how she had always been a little overboard on personal hygiene and appearance. Accusations or disagreements based on how she contacted this illness will not help my mom however articles written about personal experiences might educate others about the seriousness of this type of infection and encourage all others (including medical personel)to practice good hygeine, especially when dealing with someone who is diagnosed with the illness.

    My prayers go to all patients and families suffering from the effects of this illness and I ask you to keep my mother in your prayers as well.


  1. 1 MRSA: Patients Ignored, Left to Die « Every Patient’s Advocate Trackback on January 10, 2008 at 5:57 am
  2. 2 MRSA: Patients Ignored, Left to Die : Every Patient’s Advocate Trackback on January 27, 2008 at 4:39 pm
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