MRSA killed father of five, inquest told

A father of five died from a deadly strain of the MRSA superbug which a medical expert today told an inquest is endemic in hospitals here.

A father of five died from a deadly strain of the MRSA superbug which a medical expert today told an inquest is endemic in hospitals here.

Thomas Murdiff, 52, from Athboy in Co Meath, died on December 14, 2004 after he contracted the infection while in one of three hospitals.

Dr Maureen Lynch, a consultant microbiologist at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, said: “It is endemic in every hospital.”

MRSA is an antibiotic resistant superbug often acquired in hospitals and it can, if it gets into the bloodstream, prove fatal.

Almost 600 patients tested positive for MRSA bloodstream infections in Irish hospitals in 2005.

The inquest at Dublin City Coroner’s Court heard Mr Murdiff had been in three hospitals – the Mater Public Hospital, the Mater Private and Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan, Co Meath – in the eight months before his death for treatment for heart problems and diabetes.

The coroner said on the balance of probabilities it was likely he contracted MRSA while in hospital.

Dr Lynch said it was first detected when he was an outpatient and the hospital acquired strain can also be contracted in the community.

She said Mr Murdiff, an Evening Herald sports journalist, was a high risk patient due to his diabetes which left him with broken skin areas and his repeated admittance to hospitals.

The inquest heard 86% of people with it fit the case definition of acquiring it in hospital.

Dr Lynch also said MRSA was extremely common with about 30% of people carrying it in their nose or skin.

But she said 60% to 70% of people found to carry MRSA respond well to decolonisation treatment including baths and creams.

Mr Murdiff was tested for MRSA on four occasions after being admitted to the Mater public hospital in May 2004. All the swabs proved negative.

In July, a month after he was discharged, he tested positive and was treated successfully.

Mr Murdiff developed problems with another toe which had to be amputated by surgeons at the Mater private hospital. Prior to this further tests at the diabetes clinic at the public hospital showed MRSA had returned to the heel of his foot.

Ross Maguire, the family’s lawyer, said there was a genuine issue of public interest for a patient’s charts to be transferred when they move hospital.

“It is virtually impossible to eradicate MRSA from broken skin in people with underlying skin problems,” Dr Lynch said.

Dr Lynch also said the facilities for isolation were not there, and the Coroner Dr Brian Farrell agreed it was a question of resources.

The inquest heard he was discharged on December 2 and was admitted seven days later to Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan with a suspected chest infection. He was found to have MRSA and was transferred to the Mater where he died shortly before Christmas.

The coroner said he needed time to consider the verdict, adjourning the inquest until February 28.

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