Injured Worker, Kathryn DonahueI’m an R.N. in an Intensive Care Unit. I got a MRSA infection at work and Sedgwick denied my claim. They claimed I got MRSA from my dog! Nurses care for patients, risking our own health. We deserve protections for work injuries, so we can worry about the patient and not fear our injuries will be denied.

Kathryn Donahue
UR Denied - 2013-2014


About Me:  My name is Kathryn Donahue. I’m 67 years old, and I live in Blue Lake, near Eureka.

About My Family:  I am married and have four grown children.

My Job and What Happened: I am a Registered Nurse, and have worked in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Eureka for nearly 30 years. I am on the Board of Directors of the California Nurses Association (C.N.A.), and take great pride in my work. I love caring for patients in the ICU, but it does have its risks. One of those risks is being exposed to, and contracting, infections from patients. MRSA - methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus - is a common skin infection. MRSA is a virulent antibiotic-resistant staph infection. It’s a job hazard for nurses providing direct patient care in acute care hospitals. MRSA can kill you. One day in 2012, I was working a 12-hour shift. We nurses wash our hands nearly 50 times a day. When washing my hands after 10 hours of work that day, I felt a sore spot along the edge of my index finger cuticle on one hand. There were no cuts or areas of skin injury on that hand. I mentioned it to my coworkers. After my shift, I went home and the finger kept getting more sore and swollen. It woke me in the middle of the night with painful throbbing. I went to Urgent Care and got antibiotics, and I went to work. By noon that day, my finger was swollen and gray. I returned to Urgent Care and the doctor lanced and bandaged it, and sent a culture to the lab. Both the doctor and I suspected MRSA. We have MRSA patients throughout the hospital. I reported the work injury to St. Joseph’s and within days got a call from Sedgwick Claims, their workers’ compensation insurance administrator.

How Utilization Review (UR) Delays and Denials Affect Me:  The Sedgwick claims adjustor asked me many questions, a lot of which were unrelated to my injury. I was confused when she asked me if I had any pets, and if I owned a dog. Within a few days I received a letter from Sedgwick denying my claim. The letter stated that I had probably gotten MRSA from my completely healthy dog! Sedgwick stated that there were no identified MRSA patients in the ICU at the time I got MRSA. I was outraged. There are MRSA patients throughout the hospital, and many cases are not diagnosed as MRSA until later in their care. I have never heard of anyone getting MRSA from their dog. My own dog would likely have had to bite me to give me MRSA!

How Workers’ Comp was supposed to help me: Workers’ Compensation was supposed to help me: Workers’ Compensation insurance is supposed to provide medical care necessary to cure or relieve the effects of my work injury. Instead, the insurer denied my claim on made-up excuses. My dog gave me MRSA? I was able to recover quickly from the MRSA infection, but I worry about other nurses and hospital caregivers with more serious MRSA infections. How many MRSA claims has Sedgwick denied? How many were ascribed to our pets? How can they get away with denying claims for legitimate work injuries, causing pain and suffering?

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For more information, contact Steve Hopcraft, 916/457-5546;;