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Dr. Collins and the Case of the Mysterious Infection

by Paula P. Lemons and Sarah Huber, Biology Department, Duke University

PART I Week 1, Day 1

Dr. Jenna Collins rounded the corner of the hospital hallway and entered her next patient’s room. ere she saw Kayla Starnes lying in the hospital bed in front of her with her mother standing nearby. Picking up Kayla’s chart, Dr. Collins introduced herself to Kayla. “Hi, I’m Dr. Collins. I hear you’re not feeling very well.”

Kayla replied weakly, “Hi ... am I gonna have surgery?”

“I don’t know, Kayla. Let’s take a look at things.” Dr. Collins estimated Kayla’s age to be seven or eight. Picking up Kayla’s chart, she began assessing the situation. It turned out Kayla was seven years old. She had suffered for a couple days with a temperature of °/.° and right groin pain. e emergency room diagnosis was an infected right hip joint.

“Let’s take a look at that infection,” said Dr. Collins.

Dr. Collins confirmed that the groin area was inflamed and observed abscess formation in the area. From all signs, the diagnosis seemed certain—infected hip joint caused by some type of bacteria. Surgical drainage of the fluid-filled area of infection would be required followed by antibiotic treatment.

Dr. Collins made some notes on Kayla’s chart and then turned back to Kayla and her mother. “Well, Kayla, it looks like we will have to carry out a surgical procedure to take care of this problem after all.” Dr. Collins explained the details of what would take place to Kayla’s mother who sat listening intently to Dr. Collins. “We’ll do the procedure today in order to prevent Kayla’s condition from getting any more serious. But don’t be alarmed. e procedure is routine, and we have several antibiotics in our arsenal that should take care of the infection.”

As Dr. Collins walked away she thought to herself, “Hmm, this procedure is routine, but what antibiotic should I choose? e hospital microbiology lab will be able to tell me what type of bacteria Kayla is carrying, but that information may not be available for a couple of days. Kayla can’t wait that long. I’ve got to decide now.”

Dr. Collins has gathered the facts and knows that she must begin Kayla’s antibiotic treatment immediately. Based on what you know about Kayla’s case and the information about antibiotics provided in your background reading, what antibiotic would you recommend that Dr. Collins prescribe? List the criteria that you used to make your selection.

“Dr. Collins and the Case of the Mysterious Infection” by Lemons & Huber

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