I told you this would happen. I used to give a lot of talks about antibiotic resistance, and when I did so, I would often use a cartoon as a humorous way to portray the severity of the resistance problem:
Sadly, this is no longer a laugh line:
Former Cleveland Browns receiver Joe Jurevicius sued the team and the Cleveland Clinic on Friday, saying the team misrepresented the cleanliness of its training facility and blaming doctors with negligence over a staph infection in his right knee that kept him from playing last year….
Jurevicius has said he contracted staph following arthroscopic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in January 2008. As a result, the lawsuit said, “Jurevicius may never be able to play professional football again.”
…The legal filing in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court included an affidavit by Dr. Bonnie Bock, an infectious diseases specialist from Newport Beach, Calif., who said her examination of the case showed that the player’s staph infection was due to circumstances outlined in the suit.
“Sterile techniques were not at all times used at the Browns training facility,” she said. “Therapy devices commonly used by multiple Browns players were not properly maintained, disinfected or cleaned, if at all at the Browns training facility.”
I’m sad that it’s come to this, but I’m not surprised–I predicted this over two years ago:
At some point, people are going to become really pissed off and start suing over antibiotic misuse. And they’ll win. If hospital administrators, doctors, and nurses don’t deal with this voluntarily, the courts will force them to do so. There’s one thing I’m certain of: judges will be awful at practicing medicine and developing public health strategies.
It shouldn’t take lawsuits to fix this problem, but too many facilities will only respond when the financial cost of rigorous infection control is less than not engaging in infection control. I just hope that we don’t get court-mandated infection control programs. There are so many subtle things involved in good infection control (and setting uniform benchmarks won’t work well–in some patient populations, resistance is the norm).
Hopefully this will be a wakeup call to hospitals.