Woman dies after getting liposuction

Wednesday , September 19, 2012 - 4:54 PM

Lena H. Sun

BALTIMORE -- A woman who had liposuction at a Baltimore County cosmetic surgery center has died after contracting a bacterial infection, Maryland health officials said Wednesday. Two other women who had liposuction at the same center were hospitalized.

State health officials shut down the facility, Monarch Med Spa, in Timonium, Md., Wednesday as part of an investigation to determine the possible sources of infection and to limit further spread. State and county investigators found "probable deviations from standard infection control practices," among other deficiencies, according to the state order shutting the facility.

Health officials said they had no details on the woman who died. The other two women are no longer hospitalized, a Baltimore County health department spokeswoman said, but she had no other details.

Officials were alerted Monday when the University of Maryland’s infection-control unit reported that three patients who had procedures at the cosmetic surgery center in the last six weeks had contracted invasive streptococcal infections and that one of the three had died as a result.

The women had Group A Streptococcus infection. Most such infections are relatively mild, but occasionally these bacteria can cause severe and even life-threatening diseases when they infect parts of the body where bacteria usually are not found, such as blood, muscle or the lungs. These infections are known as "invasive GAS disease."

Persons with skin lesions such as cuts, surgical wounds, chickenpox, the elderly and adults with a history of alcohol abuse or injection-drug use have a higher risk for developing invasive GAS disease.

Health officials are urging individuals who had any procedure at the facility and who have concerns about a subsequent infection to consult with their primary health-care providers. Symptoms include fever; redness at the wound site; abrupt onset of generalized or localized severe pain and swelling; progressive dizziness, weakness and confusion.

A spokeswoman for Monarch Med Spa said the company has voluntarily agreed to suspend all procedures at its Timonium facility as a precautionary measure pending an investigation by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

In a statement, Monarch said its "primary concern is for the safety and well-being of all of our patients, and we extend our deepest sympathy to 1/8sic 3/8 deceased patient’s family.

Monarch has been in business for eight years, the statement said. The cosmetic surgery center has "successfully performed thousands of complication-free surgical procedures performed by licensed health professionals," it said.

The suspected infections, it said, "are a new development and their possible origins are being closely and carefully investigated."

The company has three locations in Pennsylvania - King of Prussia, Philadelphia and Harrisburg - and another in Greenville, Del.

Cosmetic surgery centers in Maryland are not currently subject to state licensure. The state health department will seek public comment in the near future on potential approaches to oversight of these facilities.

Over the past five years, an average of 189 cases of invasive GAS were reported annually in Maryland. About 9,000 to 11,500 cases of invasive GAS disease occur each year in the United States, resulting in 1,000 to 1,800 deaths, according to federal statistics.

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