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Failure to diagnose flesh eating-bacteria leads to patient death

Last April, a 43-year-old man visited the Holzer Clinic complaining of fever, chills, congestion, body aches, headache and a cough. He had a 102.2 degree temperature. The doctor prescribed the man Tamiflu after tests for strep and influenza were negative. He was then released and sent home.

Three days later, the man was seen in the Emergency Department at OhioHealth O'Bleness Hospital. The man complained of pain in his right lower leg and said that it had been swollen for several days. The doctors suspected the man had deep-vein thrombosis. He was given another prescription and sent home. The family had asked the doctor if the man could be sent to Columbia, but the doctor tending to the man said that it wouldn't be any use to do so.

Just a few hours later, the man returned. This time his vital signs and test results met the Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome criteria. With this, he had a risk of losing a limb. No antibiotics were ordered and he was not given any intravenous fluids. The family continued to press the doctor, asking if the man had a bacterial infection. The doctor said he did not think the man had necrotizing faciitis, or flesh-eating bacteria.

The man began to suffer from multiple cardiac arrests. Eventually, 14 hours after he was admitted, he was transported by helicopter to Ohio State University Medical Center. Upon arrival, emergency surgery was done to amputate his leg. That was not enough to stop the flesh-eating bacteria and he died five days after his initial visit.

The lawsuit claims the defendants breached the appropriate standard of care and were negligent. In addition, the lawsuit stated the man suffered "tremendous mental and physical pain and suffering" before his death. The man's parents are seeking punitive and compensatory damages, as well as court costs and attorney fees.

When doctors and medical staff fail to diagnose life-altering or life-ending medical conditions, they deserve to be held accountable. If you have lost someone because of doctors did not practice to the appropriate standard of care, an experienced attorney can provide guidance on your next steps.

Source:, "Family of man who died of bacterial infection sues hospital, several others," David DeWitt, April 16, 2017

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