A New York jury awarded $5.45 million last month in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by a man who nearly died after a hospital misdiagnosed his staph infection.
Bronx resident Emanuel Badger, 37, brought the staph infection lawsuit against Montefiore Medical Center after a 2002 visit where hospital staff misdiagnosed his illness as the flu and sent him home. Only after his symptoms worsened did the hospital conduct a blood test that revealed that he had a serious and potentially life-threatening infection.
According to the New York Post, the delayed staph infection diagnosis affected Badger’s heart and led to the replacement of one of his heart valves. One of the doctors told Badger he had been minutes from death.
The misdiagnosis lawsuit alleged that the hospital and doctors were negligent for failing to conduct blood tests the first time Badger was admitted. Upon his initial admission to the emergency room, Badger complained of being “deathly ill” and having headaches, shakes and a fever, all of which could have led to further diagnostic testing that may have prevented the progression of his injuries.
Staph infections are caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. About a quarter to one-third of all humans carry the bacteria in colonies somewhere on the body, usually the nose, mouth, or genitals. The infection usually occurs when the bacteria gets into the body through a cut. The infections vary in strength, from easily treatable boils to potentially deadly infections that shrug off many commonly-used antibiotics.
Antibiotics can be used to treat staph infections caught early. But if they go untreated, the infections can damage muscles or the fibers that enclose muscles, which then need to be surgically cleaned. Staph infection symptoms typically include fever, chills, sweats, small areas of tenderness or swelling, open sores that develop redness, warmth swelling and pain.
Emergency room lawsuits over failure to diagnosis staph infections have become increasingly common in recent years, as a many medical experts indicate that if the proper standards of medical care are followed, the infections should be discovered and promptly treated to avoid more serious injury and prevent the spread to other patients.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 2 million hospital infections acquired each year, resulting in about 90,000 deaths annually. Another 1.5 million long-term care and nursing home infections occur every year. In many cases, hospital acquired infections are classified as “never events” that should not occur if proper procedures are followed.