Another Loss to MRSA

We received word yesterday that a dear family friend died while in the hospital.  He was an 81-year-old gentleman who my parents (and therefore I) have known for decades.  He was hospitalized a month ago with COPD.

About a week after he arrived in the hospital, his wife called me, very upset, to tell me she had just arrived to visit him — and he had been moved into a new room.  She was not allowed to see him unless she donned a paper gown, a mask, and gloves.  She told me they had given her a piece of paper “with four letters in the name” that would explain it all to her.  She was confused, just didn’t understand, and asked me if I would explain it to her daughter, which, of course, I did.

Those four letters were MRSA, and there is no doubt in my mind that had our friend not acquired that horrible, unkillable infection, he would not have died yesterday. 

He is the third friend or relative to acquire MRSA in that same hospital.  And the eighth person I know of in the past year who has acquired an infection while being a patient there. 

I’m sure his death certificate will say he died of COPD — and maybe he did.  At the very least, had he not acquired MRSA, he would have died of the COPD eventually anyway.  But I’m sure he would not have died so quickly — and he might have lived for quite awhile longer — had he not contracted MRSA.

The frustrating part is that nothing will happen.  There will be no record of his death by MRSA.  The hospital will claim they “did everything they could.”  And — sadly — there will be someone else or maybe dozens of someone else’s who will acquire an infection today in that hospital.  And once again, if someone dies, it will be covered up by another cause of death.

Until hospitals are forced to come clean on their statistics (which will force governing bodies to take notice and take action), until they are forced to put prevention measures in place (which exist now on paper, but not in practice), patients will continue to die from hospital acquired infections.

As patients, the only thing we can do is to advocate for ourselves or loved ones if we end up in a hospital.  Insist hospital personnel take measures to prevent the spread of these superbug infections.  Hand washing and sanitizing are the most important and easiest on a list of 15 steps that should be followed — print the list and take it with you!

A hospital is the most dangerous place a patient can be.  Knowing that, and taking steps to stay safe from infections, might just save your life.

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4 Responses to “Another Loss to MRSA”


  1. 1 Russell March 30, 2007 at 1:10 am

    My Father is in bed at a Thousand Oaks hospital from an MRSA infection. After four Days he is breathing like a rce hourse and czan’t move a mussel. We can’t even tell if he knows we are in the room.

  2. 2 Trisha Torrey March 30, 2007 at 5:45 am

    Russell, I am so very sorry to hear about your father…. and not at all surprised, unfortunately. Especially in people who are older and frail, it just seems to me that MRSA infections are becoming the rule, not the exception.

    Since writing this post, I have posted again with information on how you may be able to affect legislation in your state. Please check this out:

    https://epablog.wordpress.com/2007/03/23/mrsa-disclosure-legislation-act-now/

    I’ll keep your father in my prayers, Russell.

    Trisha

  3. 3 Tiffany April 2, 2008 at 9:52 am

    My mother is in ICU right now at a Methodist Hospital in Memphis. She went in w/complications from her COPD. She’s been there for over a week, and is still on a ventilator. They’ve tried to get her off the breathing machine at least every other day, with no success. Yesterday they told me she has MRSA in her lungs. I’m very upset & feel completely helpless. She is only 64 years old. Does anyone know the success rate of treating MRSA in patients with COPD?
    Thanks,
    -Tiffany

  4. 4 Lisa September 9, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    My mother was in the ICU on August 20th of this year. She too has COPD. She too also always has this MRSA while in this hospital. It turns out that it is more likely to remain in paitents with COPD. They feel it is in their lungs and come up with what they cough up. Anyhow, She was on the ventilator and we were told the longest they would leave her on the ventilator in ICU was 10 days and then we had to decide about a Trach. Something she did not want. If we went with that she would have to live in some nursing home away from our area and the average life span for those people is 7 months. Not worth it. Anyhow, they made one attempt on the 22nd of August to take her off of the respirator and it did not work. They let her rest until the 25th and made the second attempt. They didn’t want to wait to long, because the longer you wait – the least likely they will ever get off of it – unless we request it removed. Anyhow, the second attempt was a success. They placed her on what is called a BIPAP machine. Similar to a ventilator, just lest invasive. She utilized that for several days on and off. It was the best image ever, to see her just on the usual oxygen. Anyhow, she has had a tremendous turn around. The turn around will only last for so long. With end stage copd, a persons lungs eventually can’t work anymore. She does have limited air flow. Tomorrow as a matter of fact she will be going home. We will have a little help. We decided to go with Home Hospice. We are not certain of how much time we have. We just know it isn’t as much as we would like. I just want her to be happy. Without pain or suffering. She did sign a DNR in the ICU and when she gets home she will sign a nonhospital DNR. There is a difference. We will place this on the fridge and probably near her bed. That way if 911 is ever called, they don’t try to put her through all that she has already gone through. Although, I feel if it happened again – she wouldn’t get off of that ventilator. We took the shot once. It worked. Now, she will die with dignity and as she wishes. That is all anyone could ask for. As far as MRSA – I am certain it played a role, but I am afraid I believe it is more the COPD to blame. My mother is only 56. My suggestion to anyone dealing with this is put your emotion aside and do what is right for your loved one and carry out their wishes!!


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