Family nets $7.8M in flesh-eating bacteria suit

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A judgment has been reached in a medical malpractice suit in which a 12-year-old boy contracted flesh-eating bacteria because of a mistreated cut. The boy and his family will receive $7.8 million in connection with the suit, according to media reports from Dyer County.

The complaint dates back to a 2004 incident in which the then 12-year-old boy visited an amusement center to play laser tag. He fell while playing, injuring himself on an exposed nail head. The boy was transported to the Dyersburg Regional Medical Center for treatment. The boy’s family had alleged that the physicians did not take appropriate care when treating the cut, largely because they failed to administer recommended antibiotics. Two days after his discharge, the boy returned to the hospital because of extreme swelling and pain.

Physicians failed to notice the development of a flesh-eating bacterial infection, according to the suit. The condition was not identified until several days after the initial injury, and the boy was transferred to another medical facility. Despite significant medical interventions, he still suffered serious physical injuries. Much of the skin on the boy’s leg was decomposing, requiring skin grafts and surgeries. As a result of the infection, the boy lapsed into a coma and suffered a series of seizures that left him with heavy brain damage.

A child psychologist that testified in the case said that the boy’s memory was significantly affected. Additionally, the boy is unlikely to qualify for more than 80 percent of available jobs, according to that same expert.

The defendants in the case included the owner of the laser tag center, along with the hospital and the individual treating physicians. The doctors are each responsible for 20 percent of the payment, and the amusement center owner must pay 13 percent. Court documents show that the hospital must pay 47 percent of the total amount.

This case is an excellent example of a small injury careening out of control because of medical malpractice. If the physicians had paid closer attention to the patient’s ailments, he would not have sustained such serious and life-altering injuries.

Source: The State Gazette, “Family receives $7.8M settlement in flesh-eating bacteria case,” Aug. 31, 2012