Timely Diagnosis for Flesh Eating Bacteria

Most of the flesh-eating bacteria lawsuits are based on allegations that doctors or hospital staff failed to immediately diagnose the disease. Of course, if you’ve been reading this site, you would already know that – to be fair to doctors and other medical staff – the flesh eating disease is kind of hard to diagnose. What makes it so fatal is that if the disease is not diagnosed and treated ASAP, death from the infection can occur very fast within hours.

Anyhoo, here’s a story of a sports journalist named Joe McDonnell who was able to beat the disease because of the timely diagnosis by his doctor. The Press Telegram reports:

After falling down accidentally on May 27, McDonnell woke up the next morning with excruciating pain in his collarbone-and figured it was broken.

Fortunately, McDonnell’s orthopedist, Dr. James Strazzeri, after examining McDonnell, had a hunch something else was wrong-and ordered McDonnell to have a CT scan.

“If Dr. Strazzeri had decided only on X-rays, I wouldn’t be talking to you now,” he says. “Well, after I underwent the CT scan, I was walking back to my car in the parking lot when the CT Tech came running out and told me I couldn’t leave, that I had a very serious infection and that my bones were black.”

McDonnell soon was diagnosed with suffering from a flesh-eating bacteria – necrotizing fasciitis is the medical term for it – and also a bacterial form of pneumonia and was immediately admitted to Providence Holy Cross Hospital in Mission Hills.

And, for a couple of days, it seemed that the antibiotic treatment he was receiving was working, until it was discovered his white blood count had risen to more than 29,000 (around 11,000 is normal).

“This is when they decided I had to have surgery,” McDonnell says. “It was performed on me on the day after Memorial Day by Dr. Michael Soltero, who, ironically, was Chick Hearn’s surgeon when Chick had a heart valve replacement.

“I had part of my collarbone removed and part of my breastplate removed. They also did some muscle scrapping of my neck. It was all done to get rid of the bacteria. I spent nine days in the hospital.”

It has been a long, agonizing recovery period for Joe McDonnell, who until last Thursday had three Picc lines – catheters for intravenous access – sticking out of his left arm and had the antibiotics administered to him by his loyal wife, Elizabeth.

McDonnell now takes the medicine orally.