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Given the popularity of professional football here in the U.S., the National Football League is never really out of the headlines. Indeed, the online sports media is currently busy covering every conceivable angle for the upcoming draft.
However, one NFL-related story that hasn’t garnered as much attention, but which is fascinating from both a fan perspective and a public health perspective is the lawsuit recently filed by former kicker Lawrence Tynes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over a career-ending infection he contracted at the team’s facilities several years ago.
Back in 2013, our blog discussed how three Bucs players, including Tynes, contracted potentially deadly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, which according to the Mayo Clinic are “caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections.”
Unfortunately for Tynes, 36, the MRSA infection proved so severe that he missed the entire season, forcing the Bucs to place him on the non-football injury list and pay him his entire salary for the year. He hasn’t played in a single game since.
On Monday, Tynes filed a $20 million lawsuit against his former club accusing it of “fail[ing] to disclose and actively conceal[ing] ongoing incidents of infection,” and negligently allowing unsanitary conditions to exist at its training facilities.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Tynes contracted MRSA from the team’s former trainer who had developed a MRSA infection after undergoing knee surgery and used the team’s training therapy equipment. In fact, the complaint alleges that this same trainer told friends that his use of this equipment was likely the source of the MRSA that Tynes, who was rehabbing from a simple toenail procedure, contracted.
It will be interesting to see whether more lawsuits accusing facilities other than hospitals and clinics of failing to follow proper sterilization techniques and/or implement infection control strategies will be filed in the future. Given the extreme danger posed by MRSA and other infections like Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), it’s a good bet.