Lawrence Tynes, the kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recently acquired a severe infection in his foot after the removal of an ingrown toenail. It is a form of staph infection that does not respond to traditional antibiotics, otherwise known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). These infections can lead to a flesh-eating condition, or even death, if not treated promptly and aggressively. Tynes recently reported that he may sue his team for not taking responsibility for the fact that he acquired MRSA at their facility. Based on what we know about MRSA, does Tynes have a case?
A shocking 94,360 invasive MRSA infections occur annually in the United States, and 18,650 lead to death. It was first identified in the 1960s, primarily among hospitalized patients. This is important because while MRSA can be acquired anywhere in the community, 86% of cases are picked up in the health care setting.
MRSA is spread by direct contact, meaning anything with MRSA on it that touches you. Examples include shaking hands, walking barefoot, or contact with unsterile medical equipment. With deadly organisms such as MRSA being so common in the health care setting, it is more important than ever for doctors to practice sterile technique during all procedures. The podiatrists at Affiliated Foot and Ankle Center located in Howell, New Jersey, understands this well. All doctors should use gloves before touching patients, especially during procedures. They should always remove them prior to exiting the patient room. It is against OSHA policy to wear a used pair of gloves outside of the patient room. Lastly, all equipment should be sterilized before use.
While Tynes is convinced that he acquired MRSA from the Bucs training facility, the statistics show the greatest risk of MRSA is in a hospital or other health care setting. Make sure your doctor is following every precaution to keep you safe from MRSA.
By Hal Ornstein