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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Remind your daughters: Mariana Bridi da Costa's misdiagnosed fatal infection

The 20-year-old Brazilian beauty queen Mariana Bridi da Costa died early this morning in the hospital. She had had a urinary tract infection (UTI), which was initially misdiagnosed, delaying the routine antibiotic treatment that probably would have saved her life.

The bacterial infection progressed rapidly, snowballing into more serious conditions. First, it spread to her blood ("septicemia"). The septicemia then caused an insufficient blood flow that triggered the quick deadening of tissue ("necrosis"), first in Mariana's hands and feet. But even the prompt amputation of her hands and feet could not save her life, as the septicemia (also called bacteremia or sepsis) apparently led to organ failure and her death.

As of now, it's not known whether she had acquired the UTI at home or in the hospital. Her boyfriend said she had felt ill in late December, perhaps from a UTI, and that her doctor had misdiagnosed the problem as a kidney stone, and prescribed medicine for that. This incorrect diagnosis evoked a wrong-drug error. The type of bacterial infection she had - Pseudomonas aeruginosa - is usually acquired in the hospital, not at home. A hospital-acquired infection, whose detection was delayed, may well have led to her death.

Mariana had been a finalist to represent Brazil in the Miss World contest.

Advice to mothers: Remind your daughters that they can prevent some UTIs by wiping themselves from front to back after using the toilet. Doctors can prevent some hospital-acquired UTIs by washing their hands before touching patients.

Read another Pseudomonas aeruginos story.

Thanks to Shari Roan for the source article in yesterday's Los Angeles Times.

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