Jerri’s Story: An Interruption in an Elder’s Happiness

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Jerri Allen* was a vibrant 72-year-old who had always been active and had recently reached the point where she could no longer function well. She had experienced hip pain for years and seen promising results in several friends who had undergone a hip replacement procedure. She was excited about getting her own hip replacement procedure behind her and to get back out on the dance floor with her husband. Together, they planned a cruise to celebrate her recovery. In no way was she prepared for what happened next.

Jerri’s hip replacement surgery was a success. On the third day after surgery – just as she was preparing to be transferred to a rehabilitation unit – she spiked a fever. She had developed a catheter-associated urinary tract infection. A few days and antibiotic doses later, she began to have more pain in her hip area. Her surgeon assured her that it was most likely due to her increased activity. Her incision looked fine, and there was no drainage.

Four days after arriving home, her condition worsened. The incision became inflamed and started draining a reddish-yellow fluid. Her surgeon immediately readmitted her to the hospital and took her to the operating room to re-open the hip incision. Jerri was diagnosed with a deep surgical site infection. Cultures came back positive for the same organism she had in her urine.

The next several months were a nightmare. Jerri endured hospital stays, operations to clean out the wound, and eventually the removal of her hip. Jerri was sent to a skilled nursing facility to await the point where she could have a new hip implanted. She became depressed and refused to participate in physical therapy. She lost weight and had to use a feeding tube.

Three months later, when her surgeon finally replaced her hip, Jerri was not the same person she was at the time of her first surgery. Her family experienced both financial and health problems. Who knew that urinary tract infections could be so devastating?

Jerri’s name was changed for privacy. The Iowa Healthcare Collaborative originally told Jerri’s story as part of a written healthcare-acquired infection (HAI) package. The video was produced by the Colorado Foundation for Medical Care, which is now part of Telligen and the Telligen Quality Innovation Network.