An Ohio man's family is suing a local hospital as well as a handful of emergency medical professionals and groups who failed to properly diagnose him while he was in their care. His family alleges these oversights are what led to his debilitating condition and untimely death.
According to his family's lawsuit, Michael Gillen had visited the Holzer Clinic on the evening of April 15 of last year after experiencing numerous symptoms, including fever, body aches, congestion, chills, a cough, headache and a temperature of 102.2 degrees. After being administered several tests in an examination, the attending physician had discovered no serious conditions after receiving negative results for both influenza and strep. Gillen was prescribed a small dosage of flu antiviral, Tamiflu, and was sent home.
Three days later it seemed as if Gillen had been experiencing a whole new batch of symptoms on different parts of the body. The 43-year-old was admitted into the O'Bleness Emergency Department for severe leg pain and swelling for a couple of days. After examinations conducted by another medical professional, he was prescribed with anticoagulant medication, Lovenox, for suspected deep-vein thrombosis. Upon his discharge, the attending physician wrote that Gillen had a condition called tachycardia - a rapid resting heart rate - and symptoms associated with the flu.
Concerned for Gillen's well being, his family asked medical staff whether he would be sent to Columbus for a full evaluation. They were reportedly told that it would be “useless” for him to be admitted into any medical facility in Columbus, as none in that vicinity would be expected to render emergency services and tests at night. He was due for an ultrasound the next morning at 8, but was sent in at around 5 that morning for severe pain in his right calf. After his examination, staff was stomped by the absence of suspected deep-vein thrombosis. Gillen was given painkillers. When his father suggested that antibiotics might fare his son well, the attending physician claimed that such treatment was unnecessary.
The suit states that Gillen's examination results and vital signs clearly exhibited that he was suffering from sepsis. Gillen's family claims that they consistently asked about the possibility of their loved one acquiring a bacterial infection, but each physician continued to rule out that cause. By that afternoon, “Gillen began to experience numerous cardiac arrests due to his sepsis, which resulted in emergent resuscitative attempts.” He was transferred to Ohio State University Medical Center where he was immediately diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare “flesh-eating” bacterial disease that eradicates soft tissue underneath the skin. An emergency amputation was performed on Gillen's right leg because the infection was too advanced to save his life.
As of now, Gillen's family is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, along with attorney fees and court costs. The lawsuit claims that “Gillen's wife and two children continue to suffer profound and extreme mental anguish and grief.”