Poor hand hygiene linked to 6 staph infections, 1 death at SC pain clinic

State health officials identified poor infection control practices at S.C.-based Vitality Medical Center, where six knee pain patients were sickened with Staphylococcus aureus infections in December, reports The State.

The six patients received knee injections for pain at the clinic in December 2016 and were all later hospitalized with staph infections. While five patients survived, 86-year-old George Nichols died from the infection on Jan. 31.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control investigated the pain clinic in December and found staff members failed to follow basic infection control protocols. Clinicians did not conduct proper hand hygiene practices or wear sterile gloves when performing knee injections, according to DHEC.

Mr. Nichols' family is taking legal action against Vitality Clinic and one of its physicians, John Stavrakas, MD. The family seeks damages for Mr. Nichols' death and more than $134,000 in medical expenses they incurred. Two other patients also filed notice of an intent to sue the clinic and Dr. Stavrakas.

Dr. Stavrakas declined The State's request for interview and referred the publication to a Vitality spokesperson.

"Vitality promptly notified our patients and voluntarily called DHEC when we became suspicious of a potential infection issue," the organization told The State. "We asked DHEC to help with determining any potential sources of infection and to help Vitality's continued efforts for the safety of its patients."

More articles on infection control and clinical quality:

Top 10 infection control stories, July 17-21
CDC encourages Americans to get measles vaccine before traveling to Europe
16 multistate Salmonella outbreaks linked to microbiology labs

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