Man with flesh-eating bacteria sent home from emergency room

Those suffering from a medical emergency in Joliet are entitled to medical treatment to stabilize their condition, regardless of their ability to pay. But one man in another state says that doctors at an ER he visited in 2010 either misdiagnosed his flesh-eating bacteria infection or purposely ignored it when they learned he had no insurance and would struggle to pay his medical bills.

The man arrived at the ER in June 2010 complaining of severe pain, abscesses and inflammation of left leg and buttocks. He was suffering from a necrotizing fasciitis infection, but the ER physician and a surgeon whom he consulted did not keep the patient at the hospital. They prescribed antibiotics, a painkiller and warm sitz baths and told to make an appointment with the surgeon for the next day.

But the surgeon’s office would not make an appointment any sooner than four days later. By that time, the infection had grown significantly worse and required a series of operations, including a colostomy, removal of dead tissue and a skin graft.

The general standard for determining medical malpractice is if the medical professional’s treatment deviated from the standard procedures of his or her region or specialty. A physician who examined the case for the plaintiff says that the defendants deviated from that standard of care. Another surgeon said that the man should have been admitted into the hospital and undergone surgery within 24 hours.

The plaintiff and his wife believe that his treatment was delayed because of the couple’s economic status. They point to an internal hospital document that noted he was unemployed, had no primary health insurance and was in “bad debt.”

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mo., accused of medical negligence,” Jim Doyle, June 2, 2013

Failure to Diagnose


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