September 6, 2013 — A woman who lost her limbs to flesh-eating bacteria has settled her hospital infection lawsuit for $9.5 million. Monica Sprague Jorge, 41, acquired the infection while giving birth at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts.
Jorge alleged that doctors and nurses who treated her did not provide quick or adequate care to wounds she suffered after giving birth to her daughter, Sofia, by cesarian section on August 9, 2007. Jorge has required more than 40 surgeries, including surgery to remove her uterus, ovaries, gallbladder, part of her colon, and both arms and legs.
She contracted a rare infection called necrotizing fasciitis, also known as “flesh-eating bacteria.” The infection starts in the tissue just below the skin and spreads in fatty layers of tissue. The bacteria also produces toxins that destroy tissue. About 30-40% of cases are fatal.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one out of 20 patients who are admitted to a hospital fall victim to a hospital-acquired infection. The most common hospital infections are surgical site infections (SSI), which is what Jorge developed, followed by pneumonia and urinary tract infections. Recent studies suggest that about half are preventable.
On September 2, JAMA Internal Medicine published a study estimating that the total annual costs of the five most common infections cost $9.8 billion, with surgical site infections contributing the most to overall costs.
Symptoms of a hospital infection may include:
- Infected area becomes red, hot, swollen, and painful
- High or low body temperature
- Increased discharge or pus coming from wound
- Foul-smelling wound
- Increased swelling that goes past the wound area
- Low blood pressure
- Mental confusion
- Wounds that do not heal
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