Specialty hospital sued after technician contracts MRSA infection

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Jun 01, 2011

HOUSTON, TEXAS — A veterinary technician is suing the veterinary specialty hospital where she worked after claiming she contracted methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) there.

The technician, Lori Marsh, alleges that hospital officials at Gulf Coast Veterinary Internists knew she had a pre-existing immune-system disorder but continued to let her work with an infected animal after its MRSA infection was identified.

The real problem, according to Marsh's attorney, C. Michael Davis, is that the practice canceled its workers' compensation insurance just before Marsh was infected with MRSA. The practice had intended to utilize an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plan instead, but the program was not put in place before the workers' compensation program expired, leaving a coverage gap, Davis says.

"If they had workers' compensation insurance, we would not have been able to sue," says Davis, adding the case would become an issue between Marsh and the insurance company rather than the veterinary hospital.

As a result of the MRSA infection, Marsh had to suspend treatments for her pre-existing immune disorder and spent 19 days in the hospital. She has not been able to work for two years, though Davis says he isn't sure of Marsh's current employment status with Gulf Coast Veterinary Internists.

Marsh filed suit against Gulf Coast April 4 in Harris County District Court but has not asked for a specified amount of damages. She is seeking compensation for physical pain and suffering, medical expenses, physical impairment, plus damages for her husband for loss of consortium, nursing services, medical expenses and loss of wages while he cared for his wife.

Gulf Coast Veterinary Internists did not return phone calls for comment about the case.