'My One in a Million Wife Died for No Reason' More Must Be Done to Tackle the Spread of Hospital Superbug, Says Ex-Mayor

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 16, 2003 | Go to article overview

'My One in a Million Wife Died for No Reason' More Must Be Done to Tackle the Spread of Hospital Superbug, Says Ex-Mayor


Byline: Madeleine Brindley

MORE must be done to end the scandal of superbugs in hospitals, a former Welsh mayor has said after his wife died as a result of MRSA.

Denzil Griffiths told The Western Mail not enough is being done to tackle the spread of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus.

He wants to see governments taking the issue more seriously and investing significant resources in measures to prevent the spread of the bacteria.

There is at least one MRSA infection for every 1,000 admissions to hospital.

Communicable disease experts believe changes in the way patients are treated in hospital over the last two decades have made it harder to control such potentially deadly infections.

Mr Griffith's wife Joan died in July after complications caused by MRSA during an operation to remove her hip replacement.

It is thought that the 65-year-old may have contracted the antibiotic-resistant bacteria almost 20 years ago when the joint was first replaced in 1984.

'What hurts me most is the fact that she could be alive today if they had sorted out what was evident in 1984,' said Mr Griffiths, a former mayor of Tenby.

'Today superbugs in hospitals are so much worse that they have spread not only into other hospitals but doctors' surgeries and nursing homes.

'People don't know when they go into hospital whether they are signing their own warrant for death. Something has to be done about it.'

Mrs Griffiths was diagnosed with MRSA after suffering years of apparently inexplicable sores and illnesses following the original hip replacement.

She later underwent surgery to replace the original artificial joint by which time the MRSA had considerably weakened the bones in one of her legs causing them to break easily.

Mr Griffiths, a father of four, said after his wife had undergone numerous treatments to kill the bacteria but without success surgeons in Cardiff decided to remove the hip replacement in July last year.

But he said the MRSA infection had eaten away part of the joint which had lacerated one of her main arteries.

'When the surgeons went to remove the joint they couldn't stop the artery bleeding.

'At the inquest we were told they had never seen a case like this before.'

The inquest, which was held in Cardiff, later returned a verdict of death due to medical misadventure, which means that something unexpected had happened during an operation. MRSA was not given as the cause of death.

'I cannot live with myself to know that there are other people and other families who are going into hospital and dying for no reason at all,' Mr Griffiths said.

'My wife was one in a million, who would never criticise anyone, who would always find the good in people. She used to weep to herself at night because of what she went through and no one should be put through that.

'Half the time we are told that is a matter of finance but if we can spend the amount of money we have in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq why can't we spare the money for our hospitals. …

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