BROMLEY, Ky. – One of 150 patients suing spine surgeon Atiq Durrani says “I almost died” from a staph infection she suspects she contracted from Durrani’s dog.
Attorney Eric Deters said Karen Feltner got MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) during treatment from Durrani. Deters claims Durrani brought his dog, a German shepherd, to his offices and even his surgical suites.
“The dog has the run of the place,” Deters said in a news release.
Deters claims he obtained records from Banfield Pet Hospital last week that confirm that Durrani’s dog, Hank, has MRSA/MRSI. He said the records show the hospital staff educated Durrani about the risk of transmitting the infection to people.
“I had MRSA so bad the infection went into my brain and through my body,” Feltner said. “My family doctor said I could have gotten it from the dog. He’s not sure. But I don’t know where else I could have gotten it.”
Feltner, 42, said she had to have emergency surgery after getting the infection in 2009 following spine surgery by Durrani.
“I started feeling a lot of pain. Dr. Durrrani’s office said, ‘Don’t worry about it. That’s normal.’ But I started getting a lot of rashes. I couldn’t go the bathroom by myself. I couldn’t stand by myself. My boyfriend called 911,” she said.
“I was in the ICU at St. Elizabeth for a week. I had to have antibacterial treatments twice a day.”
The Bromley, Ky., woman said Durrani had to operate on her spine again.
“The infection had loosened all the screws in my back, so he had to take them all out,” she said.
Feltner said she had to undergo antibacterial treatments for a year.
“I’m 6-foot-1 and I went down to 90 pounds. It was disgusting to look at me. My boyfriend and my son had to take me to treatments,” she said.
“I can get around now. I can stand on my own. But I’m drawing disability. I can never work again.”
She said she went twice to Durrani’s office in Florence and saw his dog there both times.
“He was back by the receptionist – a large German shepherd,” she said. “They said the dog had surgery and couldn’t be left alone. The people sitting there would talk about it. They’d said, ‘Why is there a dog in a doctor’s office?’
“I was thinking the same thing.”
Feltner said she is more susceptible to MRSA now that it's in her system.
“If I had a piercing or a tattoo or another surgery, I could get it again,” she said.
She said she does not have a dog.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , MRSA is one of the most common causes of human skin and soft tissue infections in the United States. It is the 10th-leading cause of death in humans.
It is most widely found in hospitals, health-care facilities and nursing homes, as well as in gyms and locker rooms and children’s day cares.
For many years, MRSA was thought to occur only in humans, until 1972, according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association . Now MRSA infections are reported in dogs, cats, pet birds, horses, cattle and pigs.
Durrani is facing federal charges of health-care fraud. The government and Deters’ lawsuits accuse him of performing unnecessary surgeries.
Durrani's criminal attorney, Glenn Whitaker, declined to comment on the MRSA allegation.
Durrani’s federal fraud trial is tentatively set for Jan. 13, Whitaker said.