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MRSA verdict lowered because of tort reform

Published on March 7th, 2009

MRSA infection is caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria — often called "staph." MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It’s a strain of staph that’s resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it. MRSA can be fatal.

Most MRSA infections occur in hospitals or other health care settings, such as nursing homes and dialysis centers. It’s known as health care-associated MRSA, or HA-MRSA. Older adults and people with weakened immune systems are at most risk of HA-MRSA. More recently, another type of MRSA has occurred among otherwise healthy people in the wider community. This form, community-associated MRSA, or CA-MRSA, is responsible for serious skin and soft tissue infections and for a serious form of pneumonia.

A Texas doctor has been ordered to pay $7.5 million to a former maintenance man who lost his arms and legs to an MRSA infection.  Judge Jim Jordan ordered Dr. Meenakshi S. Prabhakar to pay David Fitzgerald after a Dallas County jury found in Fitzgerald’s favor in his medical malpractice lawsuit.  Prabhakar treated Fitzgerald in 2003 when he developed an infection following surgery.

The jury wanted to compensate Fitzgerald for injuries in the amount of $17.5 million, but because of arbitrary and unconstitutional caps on medical malpractice cases he cannot collect about $10 million the jury awarded for pain, mental anguish and physical impairment.

Linda Turley, Fitzgerald’s attorney, called the caps a "tragic unfairness" to Fitzgerald, who "can’t bathe by himself, can’t get out of the house by himself and will need assistance for the rest of his life,"  Fitzgerald, 53, now must live with his brother in East Texas.

One of the insurance company’s defense lawyers for Prabhakar, admitted Fitzgerald was treated with antibiotics but not the one that treats MRSA, which is a type of hospital-acquired infection that can be deadly if not treated quickly.

 

Joe Pioletti
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