EL PASO, Texas - An El Paso family is suing Del Sol Medical Center for negligence after a 23-year-old died in the hospital's care.
Natalie Silva's story begins on November 17, 2012, the day she was to give birth to her second child through a pre-planned cesarean section. The operation was a success and Natalie gave birth to a happy, healthy baby boy. But then the complications started. "She went home and about two or three days after going home, she had to go back because her incision was infected and was bleeding. So they went back and she was told that she has MRSA. She went to surgery that night to get everything cleaned out and was admitted into the hospital and was there for about a week and a half," Natalie's sister Crystal said. Methicillin-resistant staphulococuss or MRSA is an infection caused by a strain of the staph bacteria that is antibiotic resistant. It most commonly occurs is hospitals. Natalie's family is convinced she contracted the disease while undergoing surgery. "She was completely healthy," said Natalie's other sister, Stephanie Hall. Natalie was hospitalized as doctors administered an antibiotic directly into her veins meant to combat the MRSA. After the surgery, life went on as normal for a short time. But then Natalie started finding boils all over her body. "She would get sores like a boil on her legs and she would to get them treated and they would treat them as open wounds. But in the end of May, she had pain in her neck and we thought maybe she just slept wrong and she was just waiting for it to pass. But it got really, really bad and she had spiked a fever of like 104. So we went back to the hospital and she was admitted into the ICU," Crystal said. Doctors determined that Natalie had an abscess on or near her spine. She was scheduled for surgery at the beginning of June. When Natalie came out of the surgery, she lost the movement of her arms and legs. According to the lawsuit, the surgery was performed by a physician who was trained in otolaryngology and not prepared for a surgery of this magnitude. He allegedly negligently compromised her medulla oblongata pons which caused her to become a quadriplegic. Again, Natalie was prescribed an antibiotic to control the MRSA infection. The lawsuit then says that Natalie couldn't keep food down because the Vancomycin had killed or damaged the bacteria needed to process food. Throughout the ordeal, her family says Natalie remained upbeat. "She never blamed anybody. She was so positive through the whole thing. The whole time she was laughing. She joked and she would make the nurses laugh. She made everyone laugh," Crystal said. Then, on Sept. 30, 2013, just 10 months after giving birth to her son, Natalie developed blood clots in her lungs and died of a pulmonary embolism. Her sisters say the hospital told them Natalie died of cardiac arrest and that MRSA never came up. "They never spoke with the MRSA. It was like the thing that no one talked about," Stephanie said. Now, her family is suing Del Sol for negligence. The lawsuit claims Del Sol failed to properly train its staff, failed to record Natalie's weight loss, failed to document the ingestion of food and liquids, failed to provide adequate physical therapy to prevent blood clots, failed to train staff on how to move her without dislocating her shoulder, failed to monitor her, failed to supervise staff and failed to provide a safe, MRSA-free environment. "Of course we're angry but it's more disappointed that the children won't have her in their life and that they will miss out on a wonderful person," Crystal said. Natalie's family say they are heartbroken that her children will never see their mother again. "It shouldn't have happened. You go in to have a baby and you don't expect to not be able to be there for the baby and you don't expect to be paralyzed and to not to be able to care for even yourself let alone your child. It was nothing that she did it was all someone else's fault," Crystal said. More than anything, they say they want others to learn from their tragedy and speak up if something doesn't seem right at the hospital. "Speak up and say something and ask as many questions as you can and get as informed as possible but speak up," said Crystal. KFOX14 reached out to Del Sol Medical Center for an interview about the lawsuit and Natalie's case however, because the lawsuit is pending, the hospital declined to be interviewed.