Nicolle Muller – MRSA Aquired After Breast Cancer Surgery

breast cancerI received an email from Ms. Muller the other day – she is very concerned about MRSA, and has seen the ugly side of prosthetics first hand, and has a lawsuit going against her surgeon and the hospital involved.

She had a double mastectomy, and during one of her reconstructive surgeries, to put expanders in to prepare her for her reconstruction, MRSA attached itself to the spacers and she acquired an infection. Sadly, this is not the first time I have heard this story, my close friend got an infection during this same process. MRSA loves to create a biofilm on these prosthetic devices, they must absolutely be watched so closely, and even then it doesn’t always work.

Here is Ms. Muller’s story in the NY Post if you want to read a little more about it. The most important thing to get out of her story is that you must absolutely be so cautious when working with prosthetics, and always ask your doctor what they are doing to keep you safe from infection. This is one big reason why it is so important for hospitals to disclose their infection rates – so you can make an educated decision.

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22 Responses to Nicolle Muller – MRSA Aquired After Breast Cancer Surgery

  1. Angela & Bill says:

    Hi We are located in Westchester County, New York. My I life partner may have MRSA but we aren’t getting clear answers to our questions from the Doctors…we are just told he has an infection and it is treatable and never told what kind of infection.
    I would like it if Nicolle Muller would e-mail us as to how she found out she had MRSA and what test we should ask for to get answers and maybe even her attorney’s name to help us get the answers we need.

  2. Nicolle Muller says:

    Hi Angela and Bill,
    I just now saw your response and am writing you back.
    The hospitial took a blood test and saw I had MRSA from the hosptial. Please call me or write to me and I will give you my attorneys number.
    You must ask to have a blood test, have a Sed rate done. I hope this email finds you both doing better.
    Sorry for the delay.

  3. Angela and Bill says:

    For Nicolle Muller
    Hi Nicolle,
    My life partner has been on a roller coaster of infections, near death since the last time I wrote to you on line. The doctors as of today have not given any clear answers! For the past six months they have given him so many antibiotics for infection/s? that he now has Cholestatic Hepatitis, and he is so jaundice he is the exact color of French’s mustard!
    We have called a few lawyers they have had little interest.
    Kindly email us your attorneys name and phone number.
    Thank you in advance for your help.
    Best Regards to you Angela and Bill
    e-Mail: doyouknowcoco@yahoo.com

  4. Liz says:

    Dear Nicolle,
    My mother was diagnosed with MRSA today. Her story sounds somewhat like yours.
    She had a mascectomy on Jan. 24, and she also had an expander placed. A few days later, she came down with a horrible case of shingles, leaving her with Post Herpetic Neuralgia.
    The other day she came to me complaining about the pain, and said she was perspiring on her left side pretty badly. A few moments later, she came to me crying that her breast was leaking!!! I looked and saw a small hole in the place where the incision had been, although healed. A white substance was oozing out of the new wound. I ran to call 911.

    She is now in the hospital on IV antiobiotics. Her breast surgeon took the expander out manually, cleaned the area, and said he could not keep the expander in, and took it out as well b/c the whole area was infected so badly. Now, the infection is diagnosed with MRSA.
    I found your story by doing several google searches to find info on this disease. I just happened to find you this way.
    I would be so appreciative for any input you might have. Thank you for your story!!! I hope you are doing better.
    Liz in Texas cottagesllc@aol.com

  5. Pat says:

    Dear Nicolle,

    I believe my story mirrors yours. I have had five surgeries following my implant surgery just for infections. I just complete my last surgery and believe another infection has occurred again. I need to find a doctor that will tell me if this is MRSA and can cure the infection. The hospital keeps telling me it is a suture problem but I have my doubts. I would appreciate any help you can give me.

  6. Pat says:

    Nicolle,

    Forgot to send e-mail address.

  7. Pat says:

    Nicolle,

    Pat’s e-mail address: northplankmurphy@yahoo,com

  8. Melody Pitruzzello says:

    first of all I don’t what the website part means.

    Second your story sounds like exactly like what happened to me. When I told my doctor that I thougtht that I was Health Care affiliated MRSA he said no I was Community Affiliated. There are different criterias for both. I am about to hit my two year anniversary as a breast cancer survivor but I still have problems with the effects of the MRSA, Including the big hole in my chest. And per my doctor it will be at least a year until I can consider having that surgically repaired.

    Like I told my husband the other night, ” I just want my body back”.

    I would like connections to pursue this further.

    Have a great Superbowl Sunday.

    Thanks for reading,

    Melody Pitruzzello

  9. Ava says:

    I had a MRSA infection in my left breast, and had to have a partial mastectomy due to the infection. The hospital was able to do a simple swab to determine the infection. I now have a large scar and lost part of my areola. I have to get a breast reconstruction surgery to replace lost breast tissue. I have never found out what caused the infection.

  10. Nancy says:

    Similar to Ava, I SOMEHOW contacted MRSA and it affected my left breast. After a month of antibiotics and incisions to drain it, the doctors decided that it had invaded my breast implant and adhered to that surface. I am recently recovering from surgery to remove the implants and clean the infected area. It is driving me crazy trying to figure out how I got this, especially because I never saw any open wound near my breast. Google searches make this disease seem even scarier. I am wondering if you have had it once, if that makes you more susceptible to getting it again?

  11. Melody Pitruzzello says:

    I was affected with MRSA back in October of 2009. I had to walk around with a hole in my chest for 7 months cleaning and covering it up. On May 17th of 2010 I just had the hole surgically closed.

    from the research I have done this is a topic is not talked about, it comes from Hospitals almost 95% of the time which means it is Healthcare Accuired MRSA. This can be a deadly thing if I was 20 to 30 years older. It still can be deadly now if it was to enter the blood stream. From what I have read lately it is affecting women who are going through reconstructive surgery, because the germs hang on to the artificial devices in the body and then develop what is know as a biofilm to protect themselves. When it is time to bloom , as I call it them all hell breaks loose!

    I can go on and on but something needs to be done, and this issue needs to be talked about more on a regular bases. I still have many more surgeries to go through before I am done with this chapter in my book. But beaware when you go to hospitals and doctors offices and the precautions the professionals are taking. You have the right as the patient to ask when the last time the equipment has been cleaned, or when is the last time the nurse washed there hands, make sure there are gloves. This is important to everyone around you as well as you as the patient.

  12. Nicolle says:

    Thank you all for understanding, how I feel to this day. I sued the hosptial and the surgeon, I had a jury of my “peers”- I lost. i can never have a implant on my left breast becasue there will always be the chance to get MRSA again. No news people want to hear about it at all. It is so important for the world to understand how deadly this bacteria can be! Thank you for all your responses, I pray for all of you, just be careful, ask questions, this is your body not the hospititals nor the doctors. god bless you

  13. my mastectomy was on my left breast, i now have this hole about 12 inches in length and there is also an opening to which there is a lot of drainage, i am suppose do chemotherapy and insisted that not until this hole is dealt with, now they are offering me a wound vac should i go ahead and take it

  14. Nicolle says:

    This is for Barbara,

  15. Melody Pitruzzello says:

    Barbra,

    I am exactly 1year out from my bout with MRSA. After having my reconstruction surgery on my right side from a mastectomy. Two weeks after having the implant put in the infection began. I had a home health care nurse come to the house and help me to learn how to clean keep it clean, I changed the dressing 3xs a day I took vitamins that helped the healing process. I still take the same vitamins to this day. I have heard of people getting the vac but I think it is depends on how much drainage there is. My recommendation is ask a lot of questions, don’t be afraid to do so.

    7 months after the wound show signs of being healed I had the wound surgically closed, and yes, it was about 10 inches long by about 4 inches wide. 3 weeks ago i just completed reconstruction surgery for the second time with the TRAM flap procedure, so far every is o.k.

    Best of luck to you and happy holidays,
    Melody

  16. sue says:

    i have had mrsa now for 18 months in right breast following breast reduction in 2009, help please still very red and no one seem to have any answers always in pain

  17. Donna says:

    I got MRSA after having breast reduciton surgery from the hospital too. My surgeon was very good about taking care of me. It is very painful and awful to go thru. I still have the scar tissue to be removed someday but as far as I know the MRSA is gone! I took antibiotics and did daily packing to drain out the infection.
    My issue is we know have a huge bill to pay for cause of the hospitals sloppy care. I still like my surgeon as this was my second reconstruciton surgery ( had abdominoplasty that went fine).
    I will continute to fight

  18. Tara says:

    I have been fighting MRSA for about 3 years, off and on, myself. It started out on my breasts but not sure how I contracted the bug. In September 2010, after several rounds of antibiotics and recurring outbreaks, I had my second breast reduction (first one was nearly 20 years earlier at age 17), after being advised that this would help eliminate the problem. I tested positive for MRSA again on the morning of the scheduled surgery. The doctor did the surgery anyway. A few weeks later, I was in worse shape than ever. I returned to the surgeon to be checked. He took a pair of scissors (not in any type of sterile package) and began cutting on me right there in his office! After removing a significant amount of tissue, including part of my right nippel, and throwing it in with regular trash, he taped a piece of gauze over it and sent me home. Instead of going home, I went to the hospital, where I spent almost two weeks recovering. While there, I underwent more surgery to the affected tissue and was given vancomycin, which caused renal failure that required dialysis! Over a year later, I’m still fighting off MRSA.

  19. Cheryl says:

    I had a mastectomy Dec 15th, 2011 and on Jan 11, 2012 was rushed to the doctors and then the hospital for emergency surgery to remove the expander because the infection was behind it. They cleaned the area all out and sewed me up. I was told several days later that I had MRSA and they told me it was “community MRSA” that I got it from being a smoker.

    I know this is a bunch of crap, especially after reading all these posts.

    I wrote a long letter to the hospital, and after they contacted the plastic surgeon, gave me a half hearted apology and the same answer and that they take all precautions in their hospital, Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Belair, MD. They may have great surgeons from University of MD Med Ctr and John Hopkins but they obviously don’t have very clean hospitals.

    Do I have any legal action against the hospital and the doctor?

    Thank you.

  20. Nicolle says:

    Cheryl,
    I need to tell you im not a doctor nor a lawyer, are you cured? do you still have MRSA? are you on medications for this? You need alalwyer definetly, who feels that you have a case, i lost becasue alot of lawyers dont like to sue hosptials even though al ly mdcotros wrote lettes it emant nothing and yes, i got it in the hiosptial after the surgery, and yes all hosptials are taking more precautions yet, they are nhot perfect, good luck and keep me posted, nicolle

    • Cheryl says:

      Nicolle,
      From what I was told, once you have MRSA you always have it. Any time I have to have any kind of surgery, which I still have to have my reconstructive, I have to be on the antibiotic for MRSA prior to, during and after surgery. That’s the kicker.
      Cheryl

  21. mejane1116 says:

    I had tissue expanders put in both left and right in January 2013. Both of my surgical drains just fell out while changing clothes. The right fell out three days after surgery – the left one the fourth day. I freaked out thinking about infection and contacted my doctor. She said she was “not going to meet me at the emergency room to put them back in.” If that is what I thought or what I wanted “I had another think coming.” I had an appointment to see the doc the morning when the second drain came out. I arrived at her office, another patient came in, sat down, called a friend on her cell phone and started telling her that her breast split wide open with blood everywhere, and that she had emergency surgery over the weekend. I had a panic attack right then and there. I was shaking and crying. I thought I was in the hands of the devil. Two patients – two problem surgeries. They scooted me to the back of the office when they realized I was crying. The doctor came in, threw my husband out of the room even though I said I wanted him to stay, then she got right in my face and screamed at me – called me weak and told me I was “never going to beat this disease because I had the wrong attitude.” Needless to say, I shopped for a new doctor who would take me on post-op. I had to be “cut and drained” three times. The third time, they left spaces in between the stitches and I was told that I had to squeeze the fluid buildup out myself every few hours, plus I probably went through 15 boxes of gauze to catch the fluid that was coming out of the holes. My new doctor told me that this problem was not going to go away without more surgery, so on February 21, 2013, I had both tissue expanders removed. Doctor told me massive infection in the right breast near my armpit. Here it is March 1st, I still have my drains, my pain, and nasty colored fluid coming out of the drains. I understand my tissue expanders were sent to the lab for analysis. When I saw my doctor, he said he feels as though my infection is still there. I thought that by having the surgery to remove the tissue expanders, that the infection would be gone and I just had to heal up. I still have a painful lump of fluid near my armpit and not sure what kind of infection I have yet. I will see the doctor again on Monday. I have been on antibiotics since the January surgery which apparently are not doing anything for my infection. I don’t know if I did the right thing by reading other women’s stories about tissue expanders and infections. I try to remain positive but also realistic. So far, its been 7 or 8 weeks and I still have pain, an infection, and nasty fluid buildup. All this on top of the breast cancer itself, 6 rounds of chemotherapy and 35 radiation treatments. Oh yeah, it started by me telling my GYN that I felt pain in my left breast. He did his exam and said it was nothing. He did not even write a script for a mammogram. I went on my own during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2011 and found out Stage III. I spoke with one lawyer so far, explained what happened, especially the part where the doctor was screaming in my face when I was crying. His response – “what makes you think you have a case?” I am exhausted, overwhelmed and devastated. Also lost job at the end of June because company went out of business. Had COBRA for July, August and September. Received a Notice from the insurance company that my previous employer was cancelling the insurance policy – bottom line, no main policy – no COBRA. The only thing I could do was to switch my policy from group to individual at the cost of $1,500.00 a month. It costs more than the mortgage. Asked for assistance – not eligible. Holy Crap!!

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