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Rare Hospital Infection Kills 4th Patient

Fourth Greenville Health System Patient with Rare Hospital Acquired Infection Dies

rare hospital infectionIn June, the Greenville Health System announced that patients who had undergone surgery at some of their locations, including Greenville Memorial Hospital, could possibly have acquired a rare hospital infection from unclean surgical equipment. So far, 15 people have reported illness from the rare hospital infection.

On July 21st, the fourth patient diagnosed acquired the rare hospital infection died, according to GHS officials.

The hospital acquired infection, mycobacterium abscessus, has a long incubation period – about 60 days, or two months – so some of the GHS patients did not show signs of the disease until well after their surgeries. The first patient positively diagnosed with the rare hospital infection was found in March.

According to the CDC: “In the healthcare setting, exposure to M. abscessus may best be avoided by preventing non-sterile water contamination of medical equipment and supplies. Prevention efforts should focus on eliminating potential contamination of the surgical field by any form of unsterilized water, as well as assuring meticulous adherence to good general infection prevention methods.”

Mycobacteria are found in the natural environment, including water and dirt. Investigators believe that the disease was transmitted to GHS patients through unclean tap water used by surgeons scrubbing in before surgery.

“We now believe that surgery processes involving the use of tap water may have inadvertently brought the organism into the perioperative environment,” said Robert Mobley Jr., M.D., GHS’ medical director of quality. “Although we use sterile water in or near the surgical sterile field, even something as seemingly safe as pre-surgery hand washing may have contributed. At this time, we have not been able to find any single cause or process as the trigger for the outbreak, but we’ve taken extraordinary measures to protect our patients – and believe we’ve succeeded. With patient safety as our first priority, we are taking protective measures to prevent further exposure to tap water in the operative environment.”

“Short of the association with tap water, we do not have a definitive causation,” he added. “CDC told us in the beginning that we may never know the exact reason for this.”

Most of the patients with the rare hospital infection had undergone heart surgery, making the illness particularly serious. One patient had undergone abdominal surgery, and one a neurologic operation.

Common Surgical Errors that Can Lead to Hospital Acquired Infections and Complications

These surgical errors can include:

  • Wrong site” operations where a procedure was performed on a perfectly normal limb or organ leaving the problem area neglected.
  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Performing an unnecessary procedure
  • Miscalculations taking place during plastic/cosmetic surgery
  • Postoperative infections that are preventable
  • Surgical instruments being left in the body
  • Incisions opening up after being stitched close during surgery
  • Excessive and continuous bleeding following surgery

Any time a patient goes into surgery, risks are associated. Most of the time a surgery is performed successfully without any complications. However, sometimes things do go wrong. Surgical errors can stem from the preoperative surgery stage all the way through the postoperative stage. A physician may overlook something in the patient’s health history causing surgical errors later on or, after surgery, a patient may not have achieved the anticipate results from the surgery, either way errors took place and you or your loved one deserve compensation for those errors.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help Those Suffering from Hospital Acquired Infection Due to Negligence

Each year, nearly 100,000 people die as a result of surgical errors, and many more suffer devastating personal consequences. Surgical errors, hospital acquired infections, and medical malpractice can ruin you and your loved ones’ lives, demanding time away from work and thousands of dollars in medical bills. If you or a loved one has suffered pain, patient death, and continuing health problems after surgery, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free consultations, so contact us today about your medical malpractice concerns. 803.252.4800.



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