Posts tagged: MRSA infection

Two-Time Cancer Survivor Fights Off Deadly MRSA Infection

In April 2003, while the budding and blossoming of new life surrounded the springtime air, Sally would soon be left fighting for her life. Sally, a two-time cancer survivor, was sent to the hospital to undergo reconstructive surgery on her breasts. After a few hard years of treatment for breast cancer, Sally was fortunate to have won the battle against cancer and hoped to put her struggles behind her.

The surgery was a success, but as with any surgical procedure, nothing could have prepared Sally for the pain she was about to endure. Numerous stitches held Sally’s incisions together. She was told not to move without assistance from medical personnel. One nurse entered Sally’s room to turn her and make her more comfortable, but this required further medical staff. While Sally was waiting for the medical staff to arrive, she took the initiative to attempt to turn over on her own. This caused several stitches to detach from the incision, which slowed down the healing process.

Sally subsequently developed severe, swollen blotches on her body. Such manifestations caused her more pain than the actual incisions from the procedure. Her incisions soon became infected as well, although Sally’s doctor neglected to disclose the type of infection she had acquired. According to Sally, the doctor assumed the infection was MRSA. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a superbug that does not get better with first-line antibiotic treatments, thus considered “resistant.”

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A Silent Epidemic: A Documentary That Could Save Your Life

In August of 2008, I lost my father to a number of healthcare-associated infections including C. diff, MRSA, and pseudomonas. As I began my freshman year at Providence College the following week, I started doing research to learn more about what happened to my dad, and what I learned astonished me. HAIs infect approximately 1.7 million individuals annually in the United States alone, killing nearly 99,000 of those who become infected. I also learned that these infections are largely preventable.

As I learned more about healthcare-associated infections, I knew I had to do something to help bring that information to others. The perfect opportunity arose when I became a film minor, with the hope of eventually making a film to raise awareness. In January of 2012, I contacted Pat Mastors, who I had met the winter after my dad passed away. Pat lost her father in 2007 as a result of C. diff, and has since become a huge advocate for patient safety and awareness, creating the Patient Pod, which is a tool to help keep patients safe in hospitals, nursing homes, and other related environments. She has also been an immense help in the production of this film, as she put me in contact with a number of individuals across the country, and also set up my interview with Dr. David Lowe, an infectious disease specialist who saved the life of one of her close friends. Dr. Lowe’s interview was also immensely helpful, as he explained complicated scientific information in a way that the average person can easily understand.

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The Growing Temptation to Underreport Healthcare-associated Infections

Over the past decade, there has been much written about the rise of antibiotic resistant pathogens and the growing numbers of serious healthcare-associated infections. Some statistics have put the total cost of healthcare-associated infections at around $35-$45 billion dollars1. Infections associated with MRSA have been estimated to cost about $3-$4 billion2 and ventilator-associated pneumonia costs another $3 billion3. The truth is that we really do not know the extent of the problem or the associated costs, and this in itself is a problem. Whatever the number, we can all agree that the costs of healthcare-associated infections are an enormous drain on the economy, and this is prior to factoring in any of the socio-economic multiplier effects of HAIs due to death, loss of employment, impact on families/companies etc.

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