Female lab employee examining MRSA bacteria.

Pennsylvania Clinic Being Sued by Patient Due to MRSA Outbreak

Doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities have a duty of care they owe to the patients they serve. This duty includes a level and quality of care that a similarly situated and located facility or medical professional would provide under similar circumstances. Failure to uphold this duty of care and having it directly result in harm to a patient or patients is considered medical negligence under the law. Those injury victims have the right to seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim, for the harm they have suffered due to that negligence.

Why Patients Are Suing a Pennsylvania Clinic for an MRSA Outbreak

Seven patients who were treated for chronic pain by Dr. Joseph M. Thomas at Tri-State Pain Institute in Erie, PA are suing the physician and practice for medical malpractice. The lawsuit alleges that unsafe injection practices caused an MRSA outbreak within the clinic. MRSA, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, is a bacterium that causes infections in various parts of the body. It is notoriously resistant to the more commonly used antibiotics, which makes it difficult to treat. In most cases, MRSA can be treated effectively, but it can sometimes prove to be life-threatening.

MRSA begins with swollen red bumps that are painful and may be warm to the touch. There may also be a fever associated with having these swollen red bumps. In some cases, these bumps can quickly devolve into deep abscesses requiring surgical draining. MRSA sometimes stays within the confines of the skin, but can sometimes go deeper into the body causing infections in bones, joints, the bloodstream, surgical wounds and vital organs.

The lawsuits against Tri-State Pain Institute and Dr. Thomas were filed between March 2018 and September 2019. Health officials confirmed that eight cases of MRSA and one suspected case of MRSA occurred in patients who went to Tri-State between September 21s and September 27, 2017, to receive steroid injections. Upon investigation of the MRSA outbreak, both state and local health departments uncovered several issues regarding Tri-State’s infection control and injection practices. Issues included:

  • Poor hand hygiene compliance
  • Subpar on-site training for infection control
  • Improper reuse of single-use syringes.

Additionally, health department officials discovered that Dr. Thomas failed to report the infections to the proper authorities. Despite this, Pennsylvania’s licensing board has taken no steps regarding any kind of disciplinary action against Dr. Thomas. Both Dr. Thomas and the Tri-State Pain Institute have denied the claims against them in three of the lawsuits. The plaintiffs in these cases allege negligence on the part of Dr. Thomas and Tri-State and request unspecified damages stemming from physical and financial harm suffered due to contracting MRSA.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys

We trust doctors and medical facilities to care for us so that we feel our best. If you have been harmed by negligent medical treatment, the attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy are here to fight for your legal right to full and fair monetary compensation. Contact us today.