Vitality Injections Subject of Pending Lawsuits
George Nichols, 86-years-old, received a shot in his left knee for pain at the Vitality Medical Center in West Columbia. Just a few days later, with a swollen knee and in even greater pain, Nichols checked into Newberry County Memorial Hospital. He would never make it home. Instead, Nichols was transferred to another hospital, where he passed on January 31st and his treatment became the subject of controversy.
Turns out, Nichols was one of six people infected with Staphylococcus aureus and hospitalized after receiving a shot. These types of infections can be resistant to antibiotics, which makes them especially deadly. Why Nichols contracted the infection to begin with now the subject of a pending lawsuit.
Nichols’ family has filed a notice of intent for a lawsuit against Vitality and Dr. John Stavrakas seeking damages for their loved one’s death and more than $134,000 in medical expenses. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control began investigating the Vitality Clinic back in December and discovered the six patients. Agents also noted basic cleanliness and sterilization procedures were not followed at the client, including hand washing and the use of gloves.
Vitality has issued the following statement: “Vitality promptly notified our patients and voluntarily called DHEC when we became suspicious of a potential infection issue. We asked DHEC to help with determining any potential sources of infection and to help Vitality’s continued efforts for the safety of its patients.”
Two other notices of intent to sue Vitality and Stavrakas have been filed by two other patients, Effie Kennedy and Laura Wicks, who survived the diagnosis. Kennedy’s bills total more than $191,000, and Wicks’ bills will soon be subject to investigation. They’re likely just as high.
“The basis of modern medicine is good hygiene,” said safety advocate Helen Haskell, founder of Mothers Against Medical Error. “Doctors and nurses washing their hands is about as basic as it gets.” She adds, that some health care workers “get complacent because germs are invisible and their potentially deadly effects don’t happen immediately.”
“Unsafe injection practices put patients and health care providers at risk of infectious and noninfectious adverse events and have been associated with a wide variety of procedures and settings. This harm is preventable,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Brink Hinson is the attorney who is representing Alice Nichols, the widow of George Nichols. Hinson said, “George Nichols went to Vitality Medical Center seeking relief from arthritic pain to improve his quality of life. Instead, he received a contaminated injection that ultimately took his life. This tragedy could have been prevented if reasonable safety precautions had been followed.” He adds, “We hope we can settle, but if we don’t, we will be glad to go to court and try the case before a jury.”
Brady Thomas and Henry Taylor represent Kennedy and Wicks. Thomas said, “According to the DHEC report, we are talking about really basic sanitary steps that should have been taken to prevent these infections from occurring. Both of them were independent people, and their families have really had to step up and take care of them because they’ve lost a lot of mobility.”