A Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA infection is caused by bacteria entering our bodies when our immune system is low – most commonly during a period of recovery in hospital or immediately after discharge. The bacteria can exist on the skin or within the nose of a healthy person with no ill-effect at all, but when we are recovering from an operation and have been catheterised or had long periods on an intravenous drip, the bacteria get into the blood stream and circulate throughout the body, attacking the weakest organs.
Symptoms of an MRSA infection will appear after surgery if the environment and instruments have not been meticulously clean, or if medical practitioners and staff have not followed a high standard of hygiene. They manifest in mild cases as boils or impetigo above the skin layer, or as celulitis underneath the skin. In more severe cases, depending on what illness you had been admitted to hospital with, the symptoms could appear as pneumonia, heart failure, bowel infection or low blood pressure.
Treating an MRSA Infection
If you believe you are exhibiting signs of MRSA, tell a member of the medical staff iimmediately if you are still in hospital, or visit your local doctor if you have been discharged – first warning the surgery that you are showing the first signs of an MRSA infection. An MRSA infection is extremely contagious and although most healthy people will not realise that they have been infected, they will pass the MRSA infection onto the next person with a low immune system with whom they come into contact. The waiting area of a doctor´s surgery is not the best place to be when you believe you have an MRSA infection and the room is full of sick people!
You should not try to treat the symptoms of an MRSA infection yourself by applying medicated hand creams or piercing a boil, as this may give the bacteria an easy gateway into the bloodstream and could worsen the infection. Taking strong antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin or floxapen by mouth will have little effect on the bacteria – the MRSA infection has to be treated with stronger, non-proprietary antibiotics, and usually via an intravenous drip. Indeed, the strength of these antibiotics can often leave the sufferer feeling more unwell than they were from the symptoms of the MRSA infection. Unfortunately, successful treatment does not have a guarantee of immunity from future MRSA infections.
Claiming Compensation for an MRSA Infection
Once you are receiving effective treatment for your MRSA infection, you should consult a solicitor about claiming compensation. Compensation for MRSA has to take into account the physical trauma you suffered as a result of contracting an MRSA infection, any deterioration of an existing condition that was caused by the infection, and the impact the two combined have had on your quality of life. There may be out-of-pocket expenses to be accounted for as well, especially considering that the MRSA infection is particularly contagious and you should not have been working during your recovery.
However, claiming compensation for an MRSA infection is far from straightforward. To be successful, a claim has to prove that you acquired the infection through medical negligence – in the case of an MRSA infection this may mean locating its source and identifying the person or persons who were negligent in exposing you to it. The services of a medical expert will be required to help your solicitor compile a case on your behalf, ready to present to court. Quite often, you may not be the only person who has contracted the disease – which can help your claim for compensation, but might delay its resolution while other victims are receiving treatment for their MRSA infection.
When this is the case, it is unlikely that your claim for compensation would ever reach the courts: the Injuries Board Ireland would decline to assess your case as it is classed as clinical negligence rather than physical injury. It is probable that you would be approached by representatives of the hospital´s insurance company or the Health and Safety Executive with an offer of settlement. Although an immediate payment in respect of the injuries sustained due to an MRSA infection may be welcome, the settlement has to account for all the elements mentioned above and a solicitor would be the best person to advise you on the current levels of compensation awards to people who have contracted an MRSA infection due to a hospital´s negligence.
Under the Statute of Limitations, you have two years from the “date of knowledge” that you contracted an MRSA infection in which to make a claim for compensation. The “date of knowledge” refers to the date on which you were diagnosed with an MRSA infection rather than the day you physically contracted the disease. Although this may seem that you have a long period of time available to you, due to the limited availability of medical experts and other MRSA infections that might be under investigation, it is in your best interests to speak to a solicitor as soon as possible after you have made a recovery from the disease.
Further Information about an MRSA Infection
If you believe you have contracted an MRSA infection, your first course of action must be to seek medical treatment. Your doctor will determine by means of a blood test whether the bacteria which causes the infection is present in your bloodstream and arrange for your hospitalisation and treatment. Thereafter, you are invited to call our free MRSA advice service on 1800 989 995, to discuss your entitlement to claim MRSA infection compensation with an experienced solicitor.
Our solicitor will be able to offer constructive and practical advice in complete confidentiality and with no obligation on you to proceed with a claim. Our lines are open from 8.00am to 10.00pm, seven days a week, and we also operate a call-back service if now is not a suitable time for you to speak with us. Simply complete your contact details in the form at the foot of the page – indicating when is a convenient time to call – and one of our team will be back in touch with you.