Families take legal action against Sutter after MRSA outbreak

9:57 AM, Aug 31, 2012   |    comments
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  • Sutter Memorial Hospital newborn Tristan Heard tested positive for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSRA), a bacteria contracted by skin contact.
  • Sutter Memorial Hospital

SACRAMENTO, CA - Two Sacramento families are filing legal action against Sutter Memorial Hospital after their infants tested positive for a bacteria spread by skin contact (MRSA) while in the hospital's care.

Moseley Collins, who is the attorney representing the families, alleges hospital staff failed to wash their hands while treating two children in the neonatal intensive care unit.

One mother, Stacey Heard, gave birth to her son Aug. 15 at Sutter Memorial Hospital. The other mother, Lashanda Bey, gave birth to her daughter July 7. Both infants tested negative at birth when they were screened for MRSA but  later tested positive, according to Collins.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is resistant to many antibiotics.

According to Sutter Memorial staff, 23 babies tested positive for MRSA at the time of discharge during the last two weeks.

Dr. Stephen Butler, who is the NICU medical director, said the hospital routinely screens patients when they are discharged. He said this is the first time the hospital has seen a cluster of patients that screened positive for MRSA but he doesn't know what caused the outbreak.

Butler said MRSA has not caused any serious infections in the patients that went home or that are currently in the NICU. However, one baby required a topical antibiotic for what may have been a minor infection, according to Butler.

Hospital staff isolated the positive patients to decrease the chances of transferring the bacteria to other babies who have not been colonized in the NICU.

Collins alleges a physician touched a door knob then handled an infant after birth. Collins said the infant's father was videotaping the birth and caught the incident on camera.

Sutter Memorial Hospital will have 90 days to respond to the claim.


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