A Kentucky Hospital May be Spreading Deadly MRSA Infections through Steroid Epidurals

June 17, 2016 | Crandall & Pera Law
A Kentucky Hospital May be Spreading Deadly MRSA Infections through Steroid Epidurals

Kentucky does a lot of things well; keeping deadly infections from spreading throughout their hospitals is not, sadly, one of those things. There is a lot of documentation out there about the generally low scores that Kentucky hospitals, and Louisville hospitals in general, receive when it comes to preventing infections like MRSA (a staph infection that’s resistant to many common antibiotics) and c. diff (a bacterial infection that can lead to death if left untreated). In fact, the scores have been so low, that after an uptick in MRSA and c. diff cases, one local Louisville hospital bought a $100,000 UVC light-emitting robot to disinfect their rooms. We were recently told a story about a patient who was sent to a Louisville area hospital for a steroid epidural to help with pain management.  This is normally a 20-minute in-and-out procedure, so it is not as if the person was in the hospital for a long time. Two days later, that patient was diagnosed with an epidural abscess due to a MRSA infection. The abscess was compressing the spinal cord and caused severe neurological deficits. And from what we hear, when the patient was admitted she was told by a healthcare provider that she was not the only case of MRSA due to a steroid epidural performed at this facility.

This is not an unprecedented story

Back in 2009, a Missouri man named Joel Burnette had a steroid epidural to cure his pain after a medical procedure gone wrong. A week later, he was found disoriented in his apartment by his girlfriend. After being rushed to the hospital, Mr. Burnette was diagnosed with a MRSA infection, which left him “with damaged and chronically inflamed spinal nerves that left him impotent and without control of his bladder or bowels. He had trouble walking and was in constant pain,” according to The Washington Times. The pain was so intense that Mr. Burnette committed suicide in 2013. More recently, Daniel Fells, a tight end for the NY Giants, almost saw the end of his career in 2015 after a MRSA infection nearly took his foot. CBS Sports reported that the infection came after receiving a cortisone shot. He underwent 10 surgeries to save that foot.

How this information comes together

Here is what we know: a patient entered a Louisville area hospital for a steroid epidural and was diagnosed with a MRSA infection soon after. The infection led to an epidural abscess adjacent to patient’s spinal column. In order for MRSA to infect the patient’s spinal column, it likely was on the needle used for the injection, or the actual steroid solution was contaminated. We also know, based on numerous reports over the years, that Kentucky hospitals (and Louisville hospitals in particular) have been having difficulty preventing the spread of MRSA and c. diff infections in their facilities. Finally, we know of at least two other documented stories of people developing MRSA infections after being given a steroid injection. What we do not know is whether or not this patient is one of many patients who developed a MRSA infection after receiving a steroid epidural at a Kentucky hospital, or what that hospital has done to:  
    1. Inform patients of a potential problem, or
    1. Fix the problem, either by testing their steroids or by initiating a shutdown of some kind.
  If there is a chance of an outbreak of MRSA, hospitals must follow protocol to ensure that their patients are not at risk. Failure to warn their patients or the public could lead to the unnecessary illnesses or even deaths of innocent people. If you have recently received a steroid epidural that was soon followed by an infection at the site, or level, of the injection, please have yourself tested for MRSA immediately. Untreated, a MRSA infection can be fatal. If you have been diagnosed with MRSA after receiving a steroid epidural at a Kentucky hospital, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and your medical bills. Crandall & Pera Law is actively investigating these types of claims, and we can advise you as to your next steps if you were harmed. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced Kentucky medical malpractice attorney, please call 877.651.7764, or fill out our contact form. We will work to hold the responsible parties accountable.