Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hospital sued over MRSA

A Grandmother who contracted MRSA while in hospital has launched a damages action at the Court of Session.

No doubt the Health Service's indemnity insurance scheme will kick into full swing and try to kill off the claim ... and use any means to do so ...

The Herald reports :

Grandmother sues hospital over MRSA

BRIAN HORNE January 16 2008

A grandmother yesterday launched an attempt to sue a hospital where she contracted the MRSA bug while recovering from an operation.

Elizabeth Miller, 71, is seeking £30,000 in damages at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The action is being seen as a test case. Mrs Miller's solicitor, Cameron Fyfe, said other cases waiting in the wings could end up costing the health service millions.

However, lawyers for Greater Glasgow Health Board asked judge Lady Clark to dismiss the action, because Mrs Miller's claims were not detailed enough to pin the blame on them.

Mrs Miller of 8 Maxwell Place, Kilsyth, was found to have contracted MRSA while recovering from a heart operation in Glasgow Royal Infirmary in October, 2001.

She claims that she probably picked up the potentially deadly organism in the hospital ward and blames staff for not washing their hands thoroughly.

Court papers lodged on her behalf claim: "If the hospital's hand hygiene policy had been implemented, enforced and adhered to, Mrs Miller would not have become infected with MRSA."

Greater Glasgow NHS Board, which is contesting the action, denies any breach of its "duty of care" towards its patient and says she could have been carrying the infection before being admitted to hospital.

As the six-day legal argument got under way yesterday, Mr Fyfe said: "People might think it is a shame the health service has to pay out money but many of those affected see legislation as a last option and a method of encouraging health boards to clean up hospitals."

Mrs Miller was admitted to the hospital on October 18, 2001, for an aortic valve replacement. The operation took place the following day.

On October 28 the consultant surgeon found the wound was infected and later tests revealed MRSA.

Mrs Miller says that after she returned from the operating theatre at least 13 members of the hospital staff were involved in "hands on" treatment.

She claims that an inspection the following month, after an MRSA outbreak had affected nine other patients, revealed a lack of soap and paper towels.

Dust levels on the ward were also noted to be high and some equipment was described as dirty. There had been previous complaints about the standard of cleaning there, claims Mrs Miller.

The health board claims the precise role of cleaning in the control of hospital bugs is unknown. It has also told the court that organising cleaning and hygiene and dealing with outbreaks of infections are matters of judgment, which was exercised properly.

After the MRSA was detected, Mrs Miller needed treatment with powerful anti-biotics and a further operation.

If Lady Clark allows the case to continue, the Court of Session could hear from Mrs Miller in person at a later date about the effects of her ordeal. She was not in court yesterday.

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