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Florida hospital sued for flesh-eating bacteria injuries, death

Patients who enter hospitals expect a condition to improve not worsen as a result of medical treatment. As well-educated as Florida health care professionals are, mistakes are still made which can injure or kill the people most dependent upon a hospital staff's care.

A standard of quality care is expected with every procedure, test or surgery performed. Patients should not have to question a medication, an injection or some other treatment they receive. Unfortunately, an ill person's vulnerability and lack of specialized knowledge make medical mistakes easy for patients to miss and health care workers to hide.

Tampa General Hospital recently was named in a liability lawsuit concerning the death of a MacDill Air Force Base officer. It is the second time since 2010 the hospital has been charged with negligence over a military member's development of a rare flesh-eating disease.

The first lawsuit was filed by an outpatient who contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a fast-spreading skin infection, after undergoing ovarian cyst removal. The victim was institutionalized after losing her feet and hands to the tissue-destroying condition.

The second legal action is a wrongful death lawsuit filed by an Army sergeant's widow. The complaint alleges an improperly administered IV caused the necrotizing fasciitis which "contributed to" the officer's death.

The 43-year-old patient was admitted after passing out while jogging. The officer was diagnosed with the excruciatingly-painful flesh-eating condition and pneumonia. He died during a surgical procedure known as debridement for removal of infected and dead tissue.

The wrongful death claim conflicts with a medical examiner's conclusion that the death was caused by preexisting heart problems.

A successful claim must show that negligence occurred and harm was done. Damages for wrongful death lawsuits may include compensation for a victim's pain and suffering. Surviving spouses, children or parents may receive settlements or jury awards for financial and emotional losses associated with a loved one's death.

Source: tbo.com, "TGH faces flesh-eating bacteria lawsuit" Jerome R. Stockfisch, Aug. 22, 2013

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