A 66 year old man and his wife have filed suit against a Missouri hospital and two physicians claiming that they failed to provide emergency treatment to prevent the spread of flesh-eating bacteria.
Plaintiff was seen in the hospital emergency room with complaints of perirectal abscess and cellulitis. He was given a painkiller and oral and intravenous antibiotics, and discharged an hour and a half later. He was told to follow up with the doctor’s office the next day. When he tried to get an appointment for the following day, the office would not agree to an appointment until four days later.
Plaintiff’s expert has testified that one of the physicians made “egregious errors” by failing to immediately order lab tests and radiology procedures that would have determined the severity and extent of the Plaintiff’s infection. He further claims that a surgical procedure should have been performed within 24 hours, that Plaintiff needed immediate attention.
What do Plaintiff and his wife claim is the reason for the negligence? Money. Plaintiff claims that he was denied timely emergency treatment because he was uninsured. While Plaintiffs have no evidence to prove this accusation, a hospital document from the ER visit indicated that the Plaintiff was unemployed and had no primary insurance, and his status was listed as “bad debt.”
In a deposition, the physicians claimed that, “At that time, that day, that hour, he did not require surgery, but he was advised that this could potentially turn into a surgical problem.” Plaintiff’s wife disagrees. She has testified that when the surgeon examined her husband, he pointed to a patch of black skin on the back of his leg and said that it needed to be dealt with by a surgeon. Defendant denies this assertion and has said that there was no necrotic skin anywhere on the patient when he was seen in the ER.
Medical records show that four operations were performed, including removal of dead and damaged tissue, a colostomy and a skin graft were needed to contain the infection and repair its devastating consequences – and totaling nearly $400,000 in medical bills.
The nonprofit health system denies that a patient’s insurance coverage or ability to pay affects the care provided. But, if it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck… it probably is what you think it is.