nfl franchise coping with fallout from mrsa outbreak

As we’ve discussed on our blog before, potentially deadly infections like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) can rapidly develop and spread at those hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities that fail to follow proper sterilization procedures and/or implement infection control strategies.

The even more frightening reality, however, is that these infections aren’t necessarily confined to medical settings and can be contracted in such seemingly safe locations such as locker rooms. In fact, one National Football League franchise is still dealing with the fallout from an infection outbreak that sidelined several players.

According to reports, three players from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — guard Carl Nicks, kicker Lawrence Tynes and cornerback Johnthan Banks — have all contracted MRSA at some point since the start of preseason. While Banks missed one regular season game with the condition, he has since returned to action. However, Tynes is currently listed as out for the entire season, while Nicks’ return is listed as indefinite as he recently had to undergo major surgery to remove the infection after antibiotics proved ineffective.

For those unfamiliar with MRSA, it is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a potentially deadly infection that is “caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections.”

While the Buccaneers believe they have eradicated the MRSA threat after having their training facility professionally cleaned twice, other NFL franchises appear to be taking no chances.

Shortly after the initial MRSA outbreak in the preseason, the New England Patriots had the visitors’ locker room at Gillette Stadium sterilized by a crew clad in Hazmat suits after a game with the Buccaneers, while the Atlanta Falcons did the same thing at the Georgia Dome after a game against the Buccaneers just last weekend.

Thus far, it doesn’t appear as if the Carolina Panthers, who will be visiting the Buccaneers’ home field this weekend, are taking any special precautions.

It is worth noting that NFL team physicians have taken steps to educate players about MRSA, including how it’s commonly spread and its symptoms. Many franchises are also providing antimicrobial soap and posting warning signs around the showers and training rooms.

It should also be noted that our own Pittsburgh Steelers do not have to play the Buccaneers at any point during the regular season.

If you or a loved one contracted a hospital acquired infection and suffered considerable harm, it is important to know that you do have rights. An experienced legal professional may be able to help secure the justice and peace of mind that you deserve.

Source: The News & Observer, “Panthers don’t plan extra precautions to combat Bucs’ MRSA outbreak,” Joseph Person, Oct. 21, 2013; ESPN, “Carl Nicks has surgery for infection,” Pat Yasinskas, Oct. 16, 2013

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