$3.25 Million Verdict - Failure to Treat MRSA

The Plaintiff was 47 years old when she underwent an operation on her colon in July 2002 at St. Catherine's Hospital in Smithtown, NY. During the hospitalization, the incision from her operation became infected. She was referred to a surgeon, Dr. Alfred Lieffrig, who diagnosed the infection on July 30, 2002, and took a culture to determine what bacteria had infected her incision. On August 3, 2002, the culture report indicated that she was infected with MRSA and advised treatment with any of 3 different antibiotics.

Dr. Lieffrig testified that he was not familiar with MRSA and never treated a patient with MRSA before. He also testified that he was not familiar with the antibiotics used to treat MRSA. Nevertheless, he did not request a consult with an Infectious Disease specialist. Instead, he decided to "watch" the infection hoping it would get better on its own.

He followed the Plaintiff for 2 months, each time documenting that the incision was still infected, yet never providing any treatment for it. On the last office visit, on October 3, 2002, he once again documented a chronic infection, but did nothing to treat it and in fact told our client that it was not necessary for him to schedule any further follow-up appointment, that the infection was nothing to be concerned about that she was over-stating her complaints of pain.

Dr. Lieffrig admitted at the trial that during the entire time he treated the Plaintiff he did nothing to treat her infection. Even after she returned to him in December 2002 with a massive infection in her abdomen, he did nothing: he did not admit her to the hospital, he did not order antibiotics, he did not surgically drain the wound. Instead, he once again sent her home. Instead, she went to her Internist, who immediately admitted her to the hospital, where the infection was properly diagnosed.

Unfortunately, the delay in treating the infection caused significant damage to our client's abdomen. She had to undergo three major surgeries in an attempt to repair the damage to her abdominal wall and muscles. However, complete repair was not possible and she continues to suffer from the effects of the damage done by the infection.

After a two week trial, a Suffolk County, NY, jury found in favor of the Plaintiff and her husband. The jury specifically found four separate instances of malpractice by Dr. Lieffrig: failing to order antibiotics for the Plaintiff; failing to consult with an Infectious Disease expert; failing to surgically drain the infected wound; and discharging the Plaintiff with a chronic wound without scheduling a follow-up appointment. The jury awarded $3.25 million in damages.