Louisville, KY Attorneys Drop MRSA Cases

There is a mighty lot of talk amongst the MRSA community about why they cannot find an attorney to take an MRSA case against the hospitals. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist (again), there IS some reason they won’t. Maybe hospitals are just too well financed and protected by the law, or maybe they have leg breakers (ha) – who knows. At any rate, two Louisville attorneys, Joseph White and Michael O’Connell, have stepped down from several MRSA cases against Jewish Hospital, and this is why:

O’Connell said the attorneys’ limited resources and early decisions by the court to limit some testimony led to their decision to withdraw from many of the cases. He stressed, however, that the cases may move forward and that they have not met with all of their clients to discuss their individual cases. Source

Sounds to me like the judges are in on whatever conspiracy there is to protect the hospitals, no?

This entry was posted in Kentucky, MRSA, MRSA in the U.S., MRSA Lawsuits. Bookmark the permalink.

74 Responses to Louisville, KY Attorneys Drop MRSA Cases

  1. Anonymous says:

    I work in a Federal Prison. There are numerous inmates at our facility who have contracted MRSA. Our union has asked management to be more proactive but they have done nothing. At least 6 staff have contracted MRSA now. When each of these staff have applied for Workman’s Comp because of the time they were away from work they were all denied. Management contested the fact that they contracted MRSA while working. Marcie mentioned something about DNA matching. Is it possible to prove that a staff member contracted MRSA from an inmate through DNA matching? Thank you.

  2. Anonymos says:

    The washing of hands, etc. is all so important. But what about the uniforms our health care providers are wearing? If the bacteria is on the uniform, regardless how clean the hands may be, once the hand comes in contact with the uniform the hand becomes contaminated once again. Is the washing of hands enough? Why are we not seeing antimicrobial uniforms as a mandate in all hospitals?

  3. Debbie says:

    Deborah, thank you for the information on 8/14/08 that you provided, it was very informative. Carol, I am very sorry for your loss and I hope you are able to find a good attorney and some peace in your life. Losing a loved one is never easy and I am still sad from losing my Mom 22 months ago to MRSA. Unfortunately we were not able to find an attorney to take our case again Jewish hospital because of the stupid rulings of a judge from previous cases. The attorneys said it would cost too much for the amount of time they would have to work on it. Hang in there.

  4. Lisa W. says:

    My heart goes out to you, Carol. I’ve posted before about my father’s death in 2003. Keep up the good fight. Have you considered contacting the lawyers in the case from the Journal article? Maybe they can assist you with finding someone in your area. I would also recommend finding someone in the media that you can trust – not often easy – and sharing your story. An article in the paper could save so many lives in your area. Just another tip, when I was searching for answers when my father got sick, I found myself on a lot of malpractice websites. The stories there were horrifying and reading them didn’t help me. One group that was helpful is from Massachusetts. MITSS is the name – very positive and forward thinking. God bless you Carol!!

  5. Carol says:

    Thank you all for your encouragement. It really helps to know that there are others (although way to many) who know the pain of losing someone to an infection that could have been prevented. I also like the suggestion of finding someone in the media that I can trust. Again, thanks to all, your comments and caring really help.

  6. Carol says:

    I thought I would give a brief update. I was told today by an attorney who limits his practice to medical malpractice that I wont’ find an attorney to take my case. NJ law limits any kind of damages for pain and suffering, since I am not a spouse or dependent child. Also, based on my fathers age, 75 when he acquired MRSA, and he was not still working that NJ law states that he was no longer a viable part of society and that his death(not in those words), although sad, doesn’t constitute a reason for any substansial award. So, no big money, no lawyer wants to take the case. The cost of litigation outweights the possibility of award. Sad isn’t it…I don’t know if I’m more angry or just profoundly sad. I don’t want to give up, so I have called 25 other law firms and am waiting for a response. So far, 4 have said no. All but one would give no reason. I don’t care about “big money”, but my father’s suffering should have some kind of meaning. Maybe it’s time that NJ’s laws were changed, that lawmakers realize that any life is viable and that losing someone to MRSA doesn’t need to happen.

  7. Deborah says:

    Carol have you thought about taking them on by yourself ? You have that right. There are so many ways with the internet to do your research and even if you do not win being able to vent all of your anger will help. I have done just that and so far I am still in court.

  8. Lisa W. says:

    Carol,
    To give another perspective, we decided to go the advocacy route, knowing what you know now about litigation. I wrote letters to every agency I could find – this was quite a process. I wrote a detailed letter to the board of directors of the hospital. I got lip service from public health agencies but the hospital’s chief operating officer called immediately. I worked on a new committee to develop patient safety practices. It was somewhat rewarding but also gut wrenching at times. The health care system polices itself for the most part. The providers at times did not seem able to communicate effectively with someone outside of their field – it was fascinating. This was in 2003 and the only info I could find was from Great Britain. Nothing at that time in the US. You say you want your father’s suffering to have some kind of meaning. Advocacy work will make that happen. I strongly encourage you to check out http://www.MITSS.org – the founder, Linda Kinney, almost died from a surgical error. She is compassionate and wonderful to talk to. Please email me directly if you’d like – tbwj780@bellsouth.net. You are in my prayers and you are not alone.

  9. Debbie says:

    Lisa W, the letter writing is somewhat therapeutic but has provided no resolution thus far for me or my family. I’ve written letters to President Bush and the Governor of Kentucky, Hilary Clinton (supposedly big on health care issues) and to the Centers for Disease Control. Guess how many responses I’ve gotten so far…zero. I will continue to write the letters in memory of my Mom.

  10. Deborah says:

    Creepy Crawling Things in the OR: Medicare Bill Could Lead to Tougher Hospital Inspections
    Reel back to 1965, the year Medicare and Medicaid legislation was passed. That year Congress gave the “Joint Commission,” a professional accreditation organization established in 1951, the unique authority to inspect hospitals and determine whether they meet the patient health and safety standards required to treat Medicare patients.

    And who do you suppose pays the Joint Commission?

    The hospitals that are being inspected. “Today, the Joint Commission collects $113 million in annual revenue, mainly from the fees it charges hospitals for telling them whether they comply with federal regulations,” observes Lisa Venn, J.D. M.A., writing on Advocate Alliance.

    Venn, who is the Manager of Compliance at a large teaching hospital, explains that “Deeming authority means that if Joint Commission gives its seal of approval to a hospital, CMS is satisfied that the hospital is following federal regulations. In other words, hospitals enrolling in the accreditation program only have to please one master. And that master is really nice, accrediting 99% of all hospitals it surveys.”

    Thanks to the Medicare bill that passed Congress earlier this month, however, the Joint Commission will no longer enjoy unique authority over hospital inspections. The legislation revokes that power, opening the door for CMS or other agencies to inspect hospitals, and requiring that, beginning in 2010, the Commission, like any other organization, will have to apply to CMS for hospital deeming authority, and prove that its program meets or exceeds Medicare requirements for patient safety.

    To understand why this represents a major win for patients, consider the history of the Commission. Over the years criticism has mounted. In July, 1999 the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General published a report titled “The External Review of Hospital Quality: A Call for Greater Accountability.” The report concluded that Joint Commission surveys are “unlikely to detect substandard patterns of care or individual practitioners with questionable skills.”

    In its July 2004 report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) went further, concluding that 78% of the time the Joint Commission survey process did not identify serious deficiencies that were found by State Survey Agencies. The GAO recommended that “given the serious limitations in (Joint Commission’s) accreditation program and that efforts to improve this program through informal action by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) have not led to necessary improvements, Congress should consider giving CMS the same kind of authority over (Joint Commission’s) hospital accreditation program that it has over all other Medicare accreditation programs.”

    For a sense of what GAO might mean by “serious deficiencies, consider what a 2002 Chicago Tribune investigation (“Clean bills of health are awarded despite deaths, infection outbreaks”, Michael J. Berens and Bruce Japsen, Tribune staff reporters, November 10, 2002) revealed about how the Commission handled a crisis at Connecticut’s Bridgeport Medical Center. “In early 1997, hospital-borne germs were infecting dozens of patients. Up to one in five contracted antibiotic-resistant germs after open-heart surgery. Dust and flies littered the operating room during surgeries, according to internal hospital records obtained by the Tribune.

    “The Joint Commission learned of a potential infection outbreak after receiving complaints filed by a patient. But the organization decided not to visit the hospital or conduct interviews with patients or doctors, hospital and court records show.

    “Instead, the Joint Commission reviewed patient files selected and mailed by hospital officials.

    “A Joint Commission regional supervisor telephoned the Bridgeport hospital on Feb. 25, 1997, according to a hospital memo. ‘Based on the review, he stated that while they appreciated the information which they have received, no follow-up was deemed by the Joint Commission to be necessary at this time,’ according to the memo.”

    The Bridgeport hospital had been accredited in June 1996, ranked as one of the top 1 percent best medical centers nationally. It retained a high ranking even after the hospital settled four lawsuits involving patients who contracted infections.

    “But during the same month that Joint Commission officials closed their inquiry, state public health investigators conducted a surprise inspection and found myriad patient care and infection control violations, such as failure by surgical assistants to wash hands.

    “The hospital initiated dozens of reforms after the state inspection and currently is in compliance with all standards, according to state public health agencies. Infection rates have been reduced to less than 1 percent from a high of 20 percent.”

    It other words, the problem could be solved—if someone put pressure on the hospital.

    More recently, over 100 patients and survivors sued Palm Beach Garden Medical Center, a hospital owned by the for-profit Tenet Healthcare Corporation, alleging that the hospital performed open-heart surgery in such unsanitary conditions that patients wound up with gruesome infections.

    Reportedly, dust and dirt covered some surgical equipment. Trash cans and soil linens were stored in hallways. One patient’s wife said she saw a medical assistant tear surgical tape with his teeth.

    Then there were the bugs. When TheStreet.com’s Melissa Davis dug into the story, she obtained documents which revealed that over a period of years the hospital had struggled with, but failed to contain an insect problem in its operating rooms. “Correspondence between multiple exterminators and the hospital repeatedly mention…a flying insect issue in the O.R. The exterminators identify specific insects—crazy ants, fruit flies, fungus beetles…”

    The infections contracted in the operating room led to open, draining chest wounds. In some cases, the only remedy was “radical reconstructive surgery—including complete or partial removal of the patient’s sternum…” according to one complaint

    In a four year-period, 106 heart patients at Palm Beach Gardens developed infections after surgery according to the 2004 lawsuits. Sixteen died.

    Yet the hospital continued to do a brisk business—with the blessing of the Joint Commission. According to the Tribune, “Joint Commission officials said they sent investigators to tour the hospital in August and October 2002. But their findings were withheld from the public. ‘If we want any modicum of cooperation from the hospitals, they have to feel we’re not going to put it [investigative findings] right out on the street,’ the head of the Joint Commission said.”

    When the Joint Commission inspected Palm Beach Gardens in October of 2002, it gave the hospital 94 out of 100 possible points. Later that month, the Chicago Tribune reports, “inspectors from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services staged a surprise inspection at Palm Beach Gardens and declared that uncorrected infection-control deficiencies represented ‘immediate jeopardy’ to patients.”

    In March of 2003, state regulators fined the hospital $323,800—but then quickly reduced the penalty to $95,000. In 2004, Tenet forked over $31 million to settle more than 100 civil lawsuits—without admitting wrong-doing.

    Bridgeport Medical Center and Palm Beach Gardens are just two examples of cases where the Joint Commission failed to do its job. The Tribune’s computerized review found 2,352 hospitals that had received state or federal citations during 2001 for life-threatening deficiencies after the Joint Commission issued its stamp of approval. In response, “Joint Commission officials said surveys represent a ‘snapshot of quality,’ not guarantees of patient safety.”

    The Joint Commission has made some efforts to improve. In 2006, for instance, it announced that it would begin conducing on-site accreditation surveys and certification reviews on an unannounced basis. (In the past, the Commission always politely informed the hospital when it was coming.)

    Given the Commission’s history, legislators’ recent decision to revoke the unique authority over hospitals might not seem surprising. But in truth, it took real political will to make this decision. In October of 2007, Venn described how a similar provision simply disappeared from a bill when legislators were debating SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) funding: “The House version of the bill called for revoking the Commission’s authority. The Senate’s version did not. When the House and Senate hammered out a final version, the Joint Commission wasn’t mentioned anywhere.” It was there—and then it wasn’t.

    “This Joint Commission legislative Houdini act is a curious thing,” Venn commented last year. “It seems that [anything that might alter] the fate of the nation’s most influential health group would really raise a raucous.”

    But a few weeks ago, when voting on Medicare legislation, Congress managed to stand up to the Commission’s protectors—and override a veto by President Bush to boot. Given their success, some legislators may be thinking, “Hey, this spine thing really works.”

    Posted by Maggie Mahar on July 31, 2008 | Email this post
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    Comments
    This news is so wonderful, as one who knows the first hand about the awful things that go on in hospitals. The people who are injured for life or have loved ones suffer death at their hands because of there unsanitary conditions can be thankful that just maybe things will start to change.People in this country need to be aware of what goes on in hospitals, all of the hiding and cover that is done. Those of you reading this that work in them and know how they give people these infections and then try to cover up what happened I wonder how you sleep at night.There is blood on so many hands from the goverment for allowing this to the sorry lawyers that defend them. I hope they all pay in more ways than one.

    Posted by: Deborah Trepanier | October 17, 2008 at 05:54 AM

    Chris–

    I hope that whole industry goes out of business.

    Posted by: maggiemahar | August 02, 2008 at 09:23 AM

    A minor point: a have no idea of the total figures involved, but there is quite an industry — complete with seminars, “mock inspections,” and more — devoted to “helping” hospitals prepare for certification visits. For hefty fees, of course. I suspect they’ll be the only ones annoyed by any changes in how things are done now.

    Posted by: Chris Johnson | August 01, 2008 at 02:59 PM

    Chris, Gregory, Rick and Lisa–

    Thank you.

    Yes, the Joint Commission has been a disgrace for qutie a long time. I didn’t
    even touch on the fact that while it largely ignores patient safety the zillion things it does focuse on cost hospitals a lot of money, needless paper work and aggravation when their energies should be focused elsewhere.

    I’m very hopeful that CMS is going to be serious about tightening up the inspectin process. We know hospitals can greatly reduce errors and infections–if they are motivated.

    Otherwise, they should be closed. We have too many hospital beds in many parts of the country anyway, and the public has no idea how dangerous some of these hospitals are–even the ones that look very attractive.

    Posted by: maggiemahar | August 01, 2008 at 02:16 PM

    I’m sure many of your readers, like me, have had to go through the Joint Commission visit experience. In my years as a PICU director I suffered through several. It’s all about process and paper trails and not at all about actual patient care. For example, they dive into critical care patient transport records looking for holes in documentation, but are little interested in overall outcome statistics of how the transport team is doing. It was frustrating and discouraging. From my perspective it was also extraordinarily expensive to the institution — and ultimately useless.

    Posted by: Chris Johnson | July 31, 2008 at 10:42 PM

    The private Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) survey process is not effective in protecting nursing home residents either. JCAHO surveys focuses on structure and process measures, not on whether residents actually get appropriate care.

    In an independent evaluation, it was found that JCAHO surveyors repeatedly miss instances where residents suffer actual harm because of inadequate care. In more than half of 179 cases where both Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) and JCAHO conducted inspections of the same nursing homes, JCAHO failed to detect serious problems identified by HCFA.

    Also, the public does not have access to JCAHO survey findings. According to Abt Associates, granting deeming authority to JCAHO would place nursing home residents at serious risk. It had been concluded in the report that JCAHO’s approach to the survey process is unacceptable.

    The bottom line is, it is proven, over and over again, what the problems are. But no one who has the power to hold them accountable also has the balls to draw that line in the sand.

    Posted by: Gregory D. Pawelski | July 31, 2008 at 08:15 PM

    Of course “the foxes have been gaurding the chicken coop”.

    JCAHO’s key players are hopelessly in incestuous/unholy alliance with much of what is wrong with American Medicine.

    I honestly hope they go away in shame.

    Dr. Rick Lippin
    Southampton,PA
    ralippin@aol.com

    Posted by: Dr. Rick Lippin | July 31, 2008 at 04:35 PM

    “…this represents a major win for patients…”
    That is an understatement. This is the biggest thing happen to patient safety, ever. We’re going to see the (good) impact of this action for years to come. I’m so happy I could cry. I’d still like to see the Feds raid JCAHO…there’s a lot of blood on their hands.
    But, I’m too happy to even care about retribution, I’ve been giggling and laughing ever since I heard about this…the pt safety networks are ABUZZ with this news, cyber-champagne-corks are popping all over the country. So long JCAHO and good riddance. Who is ultimately responsible for this? I want to kiss them right on the mouth.

    Posted by: Lisa Lindell | July 31, 2008 at 03:28 PM

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  11. Lawyers and the courts are generally reluctant to sue hospitals and doctors. They will, if presented with a solid case, but there is always a risk of causing a lot more harm than good. Of course, anyone who has suffered at the hands of staff in hospitals must be compensated but we don’t want a system where doctors and nurses are afraid to act because there is a lawyer hanging around, waiting to ruin their career.

  12. Carol says:

    No one wants to ruin an innocent person career, but pure negligence should not be tolerated. If there were 100,000 people being infected with HIV in hospitals nationwide you would see a reaction.

  13. stephaniestreit says:

    I lost my husband at age 54, he was a ceiling installer and walked stilts, stepped in a hole and shattered his heel in 2002. a year later the heel hurt an a Dr. said pins had to be rmoved they had done their job. when removed they were infected with mersa. 6 mo later his hip broke while standing in front yard. mersa had spread and ate away his hip. Dr. put him on I.V.s at home through a port in his chest. his new hip popped out 6 times finally removed and a spacer put in lleaving him on crutches for another yer and another year of I.V.s. all this was done by a surgurn, never was he referred to infectious Dr. we were told mersa was gone. new hip put in again, then his back hurt!! took him to emerengcy room 5 times in 11 days, they M.R.I. his head and kept sending him home. finally they admidited they had to send him to a larger hospitl in Jackson TN. where within 3 weeks mersa spread to his back, brain and he was dead in three weeks.what a shock, from a fall at work to death!! never did any one tell us he was in danger. now I’m alone and very angry!!! i want a lawyer to take this case and something to be done about the $100,000 worth of hospital bills i’m getting. I believe the surgern should have refered him years earlyier to a infectious caretaker and my husband would be alive today. can any one help me??!!

  14. stephanie streit
    1440Edgar Cemetry Rd.
    Paris,TN>38242

  15. Carol says:

    Stephanie,

    I am so sorry about your husband. While I had no luck in finding an attorney to take my case, (my father died from MRSA) I hope that you are able to find one. I live in NJ. I wish I was a lawyer, I would take every one of these cases to the supreme court if necessary. The only advise I can give you is to make sure you have all the hospital records and doctors records and call every attorney who does malpractice suits, maybe you will find one who will take the case. Hospitals here in NJ charge for records, and I know that two years of records is very expensive. Best of luck to you.

  16. Margot says:

    Please I really hope this discussion is still ongoing, and I am sorry I found it and needed to find it so recently. I feel I relate to so much here, lost my husband recentlty, was denied information at the hospital. Someone did ment9ion Mersa, and a roomate was brought in who said he was a suspected mersa case. My heart and mind go out to all here and I really wish I though an individual can be of any help desired. Very sad but reaching out.

  17. It’s only fair due to the dangers of asbestos, that people can file law suits.

  18. Carol says:

    Margot,
    I am so very sorry. What hospital denied you information? You had every right to it. I’m surprised the term “suspected” was used. It takes a simple blood test to determine if someone has MRSA. Beyond that, I wish you well, and know that only times makes the unbearable bearable. My prayers are with you.

  19. angela says:

    My father had a triple bypass at Jewish in Sept. He contracted MSRA and I photographed his incision daily. He recently was closed and we are hoping infection free. I have much documentation and am ready to file a suit because of his physical, emotional and finacial ruins but I was wondering if anyone has found a local lawyer who is accepting these cases. Has anyone won their cases?

  20. Mary Desmond says:

    My sister just got home from Jewish (Chestnut Street) She went in because she couldn’t breathe. Now she is totally worried that she will come down with something else. She said the rooms were filthy. She was there from wednesday night to sunday night and they didn’t clean the room or change the bed. She ask for a blanket and never got one, so she used a towel that was left in the room to cover her shoulders. She walked from the bed to the bathroom and back and had to remove her socks they were so dirty. They clean the hallways but not the rooms. She has cancer in both lungs and really worried about the filth. Why has all the great hospital gone so far down hill and still have the nerve to charge these God Awful prices. What happened to all of the cleaning staff?

  21. Hemorriods says:

    Hello! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  22. SEO says:

    This is so sad. i cant believe this happend.

  23. Umzug Berlin says:

    Hello there, I discovered your web site by way of Google at the same time as looking for a similar topic, your website got here up, it appears great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  24. Dan says:

    I have looked through the comments on this site. You see that MRSA has been a problem for years.

    The saddest part about this issue is that people continue to post about their loved ones dying as the result of hospital contracted MRSA years later. I am sorry to hear about the loss and I hope we see a day when nobody has a new story like these.

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