A cosmetic surgery center located in Baltimore County, Maryland that refers to itself as a “med spa” was forced to close on September 19, 2012 by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“DHMH”) and the Baltimore County Department of Health after three of its liposuction patients contracted severe invasive Group A Streptococcus infections (“GAS”) between mid-August, 2012 and mid-September, 2012. GAS infections can be deadly if the bacteria gets into the blood or lungs. All three of the patients had to be hospitalized and one died.
The day before the surgery center was ordered to close, an inspection by health officials “observed probable deviations from standard infection control practices, among other potential deficiencies” at the surgery center. The “med spa” was ordered to close while an investigation is conducted to determine possible sources of infections and to limit further spread. The owners are reported to be cooperating with the investigation.
What Is GAS And How Is It Spread?
DHMH posted the following on its website with regard to GAS:
Group A Streptococci are often found in the throat and on the skin. These bacteria are spread through direct contact with mucus from the nose or throat of persons who are infected or through contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin or by contact with contaminated surfaces. Sick individuals, such as those who have strep throat or skin infections (impetigo), are most likely to spread the infection. Persons (also called “carriers”) who carry the bacteria but have no symptoms are much less contagious.
Most GAS infections are relatively mild; however, occasionally these bacteria can cause severe and even life-threatening diseases when they infect parts of the body where bacteria usually are not found, such as the blood, muscle, or the lungs. These infections are termed “invasive GAS disease.”
Persons with skin lesions (such as cuts, surgical wounds, chickenpox), the elderly, and adults with a history of alcohol abuse or injection drug use have a higher risk for developing invasive GAS disease. Also, people with chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and chronic heart or lung disease, and those who use medications such as steroids, have a higher risk.
Between 10% and 15% of patients with GAS die from the disease.
The Order to Cease Operations from DHMH dated September 19, 2012 can be viewed by clicking here.
Proper infection control policies, procedures, and protocols that are always adhered to are essential in reducing infection rates in hospitals, operating rooms, private for-profit surgery centers, “medical spas” that perform invasive procedures, and in doctors’ offices and anywhere else that medical procedures are performed. Without constant vigilance to infection control and monitoring, patients are placed at unnecessary risk of acquiring an infection that may cause serious and permanent injuries and require extensive medical treatments that should have been avoided.
Hospitals, especially, have engaged in more intense efforts to control hospital-acquired infections, partly due to Medicare refusing to pay for medical care that was only necessary due to certain hospital-acquired infections that are considered to be avoidable with proper efforts. For the list of hospital-acquired conditions for which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) will not make additional payments if they occurred on or after October 1, 2008, click here.
If you, a family member, or a friend acquired an infection during a hospital stay or medical procedure such as one performed in a surgical center, you, your family member, or your friend may be entitled to receive compensation for the injuries and losses suffered as a result.
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