Written by Pam Pires of San Jose, CA. In July of 2007 I went into a hospital in San Jose, California to have back surgery and I was sent home with a staph infection within the incision site that almost cost me my life. I am so frustrated and angered that all this pain and suffering I’ve endured and continue to is because of a lack of sterilization within the hospital. I had to have two other back surgeries to remove diseased tissue and have drainage tubes put in my back to help remove the staph infection. I spent a week in critical care and a total of a month in the hospital. I had a picc line inserted in my arm so that I could have home health care and learned to administer 5 IV antibiotic infusions a day to myself….over 7 months later I was still on oral antibiotics! My original neurosurgeon could not and would not admit that I could possibly have a staph infection upon my return to the emergency room with an extremely high fever, shakes, severe pain, and disorientation. He literally put me through a gamit of tests for almost 48 hours. Finally, my infectious disease doctor finally operated and confirmed I definitely had a staph infection “within” the operative site of the back surgery.
I was still not getting better and even sent home to yet return to the ER with a abcess coming out my back and with another MRI confirming that both my L4 & L5 vertebrae were now engulfed with the staph infection and I developed osteomyelitits (bone infection). Again, another debridement surgery and drainage tubes inserted…this time by a new neurosurgeon with wonderful bedside manners and very caring. I wore a back brace to keep the vertebrae from shifting so my body could fuse the vertebrae together to save me from another back surgery. I had to have blood work done every 4-6 weeks and MRIs and CAT scans every 3 months for a year and then every 6 months to make sure my spine was healing and that the staph infection did not flare up. This staph infection literally changed my life. Those that have suffered from one or watched a love one do so can understand how it impacts a person not only physically but mentally, emotionally and financially.
It is disgusting how the hospital offered me the opportunity (they came to my hospital bedside) to have their risk management department review my case and discuss a mediation with them. They stated I was to not discuss this with anyone (legal council etc.) and scheduled a teleconference with me just to slap me in the face! They told me after their investigation that since it is protocol for all surgeons to discuss the benefits as well as the risks of surgery with one risk being a “staph infection” (I was never told about a staph infection!) and I signed the hospital consent form (a form you have to sign in order to receive care), they feel I was informed and therefore it was a “chance” I took! What? A chance? No one should ever have to go into the hospital for help and leave with something that is caused from improper sterilization procedures. The hospitals need to be held responsible for what these infections do to a person. We all need to get vocal, go public, get together and speak about this to everyone so we can make changes now.