Fury of MRSA sufferer

A STUDENT who contracted MRSA while being treated for a kidney complaint at one of the region's hospitals has spoken of her fury at the way her condition has been handled.

By Danielle Nuttall

A STUDENT who contracted MRSA while being treated for a kidney complaint at one of the region's hospitals has spoken of her fury at the way her condition has been handled.

Rachel Reeve, 21, contracted the hospital superbug - Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) - while undergoing an operation at Ipswich Hospital in October 2002 to remove a blockage in her right kidney.

The Suffolk College student, from Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich, has since been in and out of the hospital suffering from a throat infection, further kidney problems and a toe infection but claims doctors had not been told of her MRSA status.

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As a result, Miss Reeve claims numerous operations to treat her problems have had to be cancelled at the last minute because of a lack of communication between medical staff who had not received information she was MRSA positive.

The last straw came yesterday, when the part-time Co-op worker attended the hospital's podiatry unit for treatment on her toe for it to be cancelled again because she told them she had MRSA. She had been due to be maid of honour at her friend's wedding but pulled out in order to keep the appointment.

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Miss Reeve, who is studying for a degree in English literature and media studies, said if it had not been for her repeatedly telling the hospital of her condition, staff would not know.

She has now written to hospital chief executive Chris Dooley calling for an inquiry into her case.

Miss Reeve said: "I have upset a good friend and caused chaos to important plans and yet I have nothing to show for today except for wasted time and emotional distress to myself and my family members.

"Yet again, I have booked off time from work for this procedure just to be told that it must be cancelled and rescheduled. Once again my working shifts have been upset by disorganisation on the hospital's part.

"The thing that aggravates me is that despite being told I had it (MRSA), no further action was taken to tell me how it could be cured or how I could cope with it.

"They are supposed to do follow up tests to find the site of the infection and none of this was performed until recently. I had to tell them I had it.

"Today is the worst I have felt throughout all of this. It's been exhausting going around in circles. No one has been informed of my MRSA in enough time before the operation has been due to be carried out."

Miss Reeve was due to have her tonsils out at the hospital on May 17, however the operation was cancelled because no updated tests had been carried out to discover her MRSA situation and also no bed was available.

She returned two days later for treatment to her toe, but this also had to be cancelled due to the absence of updated information on her MRSA.

During this time, she claimed she had to use the same ward facilities and equipment as other patients, putting them at risk of contracting the infection.

The operation on her tonsils was carried out in June but she continued to suffer from throat problems.

And with yesterday's treatment postponed, Miss Reeve said she could not see how she would ever rebuild her life.

"I go to get treatment and they cannot do it because they will put other patients at risk. It's a lack of communication, it's all it seems to be," she said.

"I'm in absolute pain. How can I get my life back together without the help I need?

"I know of people who have unfortunately passed away due to MRSA so it worries me every day and I don't know how to deal with it."

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said last night: "We do listen and do take the viewpoints expressed very seriously indeed. As soon as we received the letter we launched an investigation into all of the circumstances and that is ongoing.

"We will get in touch with Miss Reeve as soon as this is complete."

Miss Reeve's toe treatment is due to be carried out on August 16 but she is hoping to receive a response from the hospital into her claims before it takes place.

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