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Staph Infection Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Results in $5.45M Award

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.

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12 comments

  1. Barbara Reply

    I had surgery on Dec.1. 2008. The surgery was to removed a cyst off my left ovary. My left ovary was suppose to be removed in 1992 when i had a total hysteremony. I stayed in the hospital 5 days. a week after surgery I started bleeding from my incision. One of the doctors said it was normal to bleed from your incision. I asked the doctor to put me in the hospital because my incision was constantly draining. She assured my husband and I that I didn;t have an infection, but she had to say infection to get me admitted. I was hospitalized from Dec. 16 – 19 they never cultured the infection, sent me home with a wound vac I had to ask for. A nurse came out three times a week to change the vac, It always malfunctioned. On Sunday Dec.26 the on call was called out to check the vac she called one of the doctors to ask him if she could culture it, his reply was no. She called the other doctor snd csll in some antiobitics. On Tuesday Dec. 28, boils formed around my incision. I went to the emergency room I was admitted. After a few days the nurse decided to culture the infection, it came back mrsa staph. they tried treating me with placing sterile gauge in the opening in my incision. I was hospitalized from Jan. 30,2008 -Dec. 16,2009. 2 months later my incision got real red and swollen the infection was still there
    I was put in the hospital again for the 4th time and operated on to cut out the staph.Hospotilazed from April 4 – 9, 2009 i had to wear a drainage bag for a month. I had to call my Cigna Insurance Counselor crying befpre the doctor wou;d ack concern and take of me.In may I was all swollen again I thought the infection was still there but I got a second opinion and the doctor said I have a incisional hernia from all of the infection. I will have to have surgery to repair it. My life has really been messed up from a simple surgery.
    I was told that a cleaning crews has been working months to clean up staph infection out of methodist hospital surgical units. One of the doctors prescribed me a pain medication that i am allergic to. On one of his reports he stated I had been to the wound clinic for a wound on my lower left leg. There is no wound on my lower leg and I have never been to the wound clinic. I should have my hernia surgery in the next two weeks.My daughters had to move in to help take caer of me. MY husband, My two daughters,My son=in laws, My grandchildren and me of course all our lives were turned up-side down. There are smaller details but I will stop here.

  2. Nicole Reply

    I have been dealing with a staph infection since July 2009 after an ACL surgery. I complained of high fever, pain in the incision area, redness and my surgeon advised this is normal after surgery, my pain mgt dr prescribed antiobiotics, but when the surgeon was notified, he told me I didnt need the antiobiotics because there was no infection, 4 surgeries later, I am still dealing with a staph infection and have IV antiobiotics that I was sent home with for the past 2 weeks, I would like to know if I have a law suit due to the Drs and hosptial negligence

  3. james Reply

    Last year I had to go to the hospital cause of my appendix’s … first doctor …he done laser surgery but couldn’t do it that way so he cut me open … they ruptured when he done that .. he then stapled me up and I stayed stapled up for 2 or 3 days … by then another doctor had taken over cause the first doctor went on vacation … by then infection was draining out of the wound soaking my bed up ..the doctor then open my wound back up and said wounds like that was supposed to been left open … the infection spread to my pelvic area, had abceses on my pelvic area and spread behind my lungs .. I had to be transported to another hospital where they done major lung surgery … in all i spent nearly 3 months in the hospital and nearly died they gave me 40% chance of living …do you think I can sue the first doctor for not leaving the wound open like the second doctor said

  4. Joe Reply

    I had a epidorial injection in my L-5. 2 days later I was bed ridden and could not walk and the pain was horriabe..Was admittes in to the hospital for 100 days an for 30 day was put into a coma because of the pain..ended up with ostomylitis and staph infection…I am now walking 3 to 4 block but still have a great amount of pain….

  5. nancy Reply

    back nov 2009 i was in a car wreck that disrupted my pacemaker site, i under went proper treatment for the healing of the site.. about a month later I had alot of draining from the site and being that it was a weekend I went to a walkin clinic.along with the drainage I had developed other symptoms and now because I was suffering from a high temp and sever headache well felt like I was dying..I informed the doc of the wreck and showed him the site and asked directly if this could be the problem. I was told that I had the flu. Sent home with tamaflu and hydrocodone.Well, Monday 2 days later, I was admitted into ICU with a staph infection, the pacemaker had to be removed and I stayed in ICU for about a week but in the hospital for 16 days where I developed many more health issues from the staph, my husband was brought home from Iraq and was released from active duty to care for me which resulted in us loosing 25,000 income not to mention any promotions that he would have been rewarded if he had remained in country. but anyways I was sent home with a picline and home health for an additional 5-6 weeks then 6 months later the pacemaker was replaced, needless to say that i never had the flu, and one simple blood test would have revealed all the problems and not have caused many more, including finical stress. when we got copies of lab reports where the doc tested for the flu all cultures where neg, he even tested for strap throat. all test were neg,do you think i have a case. i know statues of limitation are 1 yr be we have been given a ext.

  6. Joshua Reply

    . i reside in delaware and know theres probably nothing you can do for me. but this is my story,uly 1st of 2008 i Had a muscle pain picking up my ex pregnant girlfriends daughter that was 2 years old and sleeping. I felt a sharp muscle pain. I went to the ER that night and they thought i wanted prescripted drugs. I left with motrin and volume. July 3rd came and walked thru a hallway , heard my ex kids running around. my ex was giving birth to me AND HERs daughter on july 7th. Well needless to say i lost feeling from my stomach down. I remember falling asleep and by the time I woke up I saw a nurse. I asked her which room my girlfriend was because of the birth. She responded “your paralyzed and its the tenth, your daughter was born 3 days ago.” the paralysis was caused by a Staph infection that wasnt detected the first time I went in the er.Now im paralyzed for life because of it. The surgeon spoke to exgirlfriend and stated why did we not come in atleast 2 days ago. If he did he would not be paralyzed. she stated we did. you didnt believe him. So now all lawyers say to me wrong place wrong time, I live being paralyzed the rest of my life.

  7. JG Reply

    I went to a doctor in Manhattan for advisement and prophylactic prescriptions for a planned trip to India, to be taken on arrival. So I had not taken any medications yet. I was in relatively good health and a great healthy diet, but did mention that I seem to be constipated often, but no other symptoms such as pain, diarrhea, heartburn or fevers which I told him. I did ask him if he knew of a medicine for that, no answer. However, he did have me drink an electric blue radioactive drink with isotope labeled urea. I did not know this at the time, He did not tell me anything about the solution ingredients- wise . He said it was a simple diagnostic test to see if I had bacteria in my stomach. he was also incorrect and too vague because it’s a test specifically for bacteria that cause heartburn. I would have refused had he been more informative, Furthermore, no blood tests had been taken before this. I blew into the bad as instructed and asked that he test for many types of bacteria if I had to drink what appeared to be a liter of this substance. Later that day I experienced overwhelming nausea and no appetite at all which lasted for MONTHS. Subsequent to this test I developed daily tarry and foul diarrhea with weakness ,nausea and fevers DAILY. Prior to this I had no nausea , no fevers or weakness. My urine turned an oily yellow and smelled strongly of ammonia, as did my stool. A month or so later when I could finally leave my residence I scheduled an appointment with this same doctor as a follow up. I had to cancel and could not make it. I was racked with GI distress and weakness.so much so that I was too afraid to take the subway. Finally a month or so later after attempting to flush my body with teas and water i could make it to his office, barely. When I got there, they took a blood test and I fainted half way through. They also noted that I was 85 lbs. I could not eat obviously and was losing vast amounts of electrolytes. This did not alarm the doctors nurse or the doctor at all and I got a follow up call to tell me that my blood tests were normal and the pointless stomach bacteria test was negative. How about…radiation sickness? Improperly mixed solution? Whatever was the problem, it rests squarely on this doctor’s office and my life took a ruinous downfall to be housebound and dysfunctional for months.

  8. Kelly Reply

    My 6 month old son was misdiagnosed. The ER doctor said it looked like he had bumped his head on the crib and sent us home with ointment. I didn’t feel like he had given me the correct diagnosis, so we went to another ER the next day and it turned out to be a staph infection. Two days later, a bump appeared on his neck. Two days after that, my baby had to undergo anesthesia and have the abscess removed.
    I am beyond furious and filed a complaint with the first ER, but I don’t imagine it will do much good.

  9. Amber Reply

    I had a penniculectomy on may 7th by dr. coates modesto memorial center, 2 wks later my incision opened began to drain fluid. I went into drs office they said it was common for this to happen so I kept a dressing on the opening for another week it got worse & more painful. Started running a frver of 102-3 chills & shakes& sweats, they admitted me into hospital they had to pack my incision which had grown upward, & all around. Givin iv antibiotics, & released w a wound vac. Now im thinkin its staph infection. Each time I as pasked the nurses they never explained to me exactly wat kinda infection I had. But as I reserched staph infection after surgery, it looks as if its exactly wat I have. Do I have a lawsuit?

  10. JON Reply

    i catch a infection from a basement sewage back up in the aptment i was renting from i call them about the back up 3 weeks the professional property management didnt respond. i got and infection in my hand and had to be put into the Hamilton hosp, for 4 days,telling me i should lose my finger….the property company was not ever answered my calls and my finger nail is now deformed and splits open to infections. as a cook i can’t work with an open finger to infections, i have the mars doctors letter saying she beleaves that the sewage back up was the cause and i get infections every 6 months for the past year and a half.. what kind of case and what should i ask for cash wise? what is a fair settlement to seek? i just what to know a number thats fair…jon

  11. Cecilia Reply

    Last year I received a steroid shots in my lower back mind you this had been the sixth or seventh time I received it on 7-22-11 by 7-28-11 I went to er they thought it was muscular I couldn’t walk my butt felt like it was broke the next day I felt horrible felt like my body was on fire I was burning up had chills couldn’t move so went Back to er they found out had an infection and a MRI showed I had a mass abscess on my si joint from the injections I was in hospital for two weeks had kidney failure left hospital still sick it was horrible now till this day lower back and pain in si joint is awful

  12. Carmen Reply

    I had surgery to have a spinal stimulator put in on July 17th. Was released on the 18th. After two weeks I started not feeling good and was running a fever in the middle of the night. I woke my husband who drove me to the same hospital I had the surgery at and they did blood work and admitted me at that time. I was there for two full weeks. Went in for surgery the next morning where they went in and removed the spinal stimulator. They said that the device itself was cover with Infection. Then 7 days later went back Into surgery where they cleaned out both wounds and put on a wound vac. I left having a pic line (IV) and the wound vac. I was admitted August 1 and releases August 14th. I just got the iv out 2 weeks ago and the wound vac yesterday. I was told that the Infection was so bad in my spinal canal where the wires/leads were placed. Now I was told that I don\’t get the stimulator back in so I now don\’t have the device that worked so well during the 1 week trial period I we f through 2 months prior to having a permanent one put in. I was told that I was not going to be responsible for any of the payment due to the circumstances. So I have a lawsuit since this has not only been such a horrible situation but also that I will have to suffer from back pain.

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