FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Britney Stewart has filed a lawsuit against Northern Health claiming her husband was misdiagnosed three times at Fort St. John Hospital before he died two years ago, according to a CBC report.
The 33-year-old says her husband’s strep infection was misdiagnosed in the emergency room before he died of necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease, and claims doctors could have ordered tests to diagnose the infection.
Josh Wakely, who was in Fort St. John for work, passed away in March 2020, leaving behind Stewart and their then-two-year-old son.
The CBC article says Stewart’s claims have not been proven, and the physicians and Northern Health have yet to file a response in court.
Stewart told the CBC that Wakely initially visited the hospital with “a severe sore throat” prior to midnight on February 24th, 2020, and was treated with Tylenol and fluids for suspected tonsillitis, before being sent home.
According to the lawsuit filed last Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court, doctors didn’t swab Wakely’s throat or run a rapid test for strep. He was then transferred back to hospital by paramedics on February 26th with back spasms.
“He had taken numerous medications that day, including 12 tablets of Robaxacet, seven tablets of Advil, seven tablets of Motrin, and one tablet of Tylenol with codeine but still rated his pain as 10/10,” the claim read.
He was diagnosed with muscle spasms and sacroiliitis, given Tylenol 3s and sent home again.
He was back in hospital on February 27th with “pain, swelling and loss of sensation” radiating up his arm from his right hand and wrist, according to the lawsuit.
Wakely was diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome, due to his work as a welder, and was sent home again, this time with Advil and the advice to avoid vibrating tools.
The lawsuit claims the doctors on his last two visits failed to order lab tests or bloodwork and didn’t reference his previous visits.
A CBC reporter reached out to a Northern Health spokesperson who said they couldn’t comment.
“At this time, Northern Health has not been served regarding this statement of claim. NH cannot comment further, as the litigation process is underway,” said an email to CBC.
Stewart travelled a 2,000-kilometre round trip to bring him home to the Okanagan after the third hospital visit, and Wakely was taken to Kelowna General Hospital the day after they got home, the claim said.
Lab work confirmed a strep A infection, according to the lawsuit. The bacteria can cause a range of diseases, ranging from minor cases of strep throat to life-threatening illnesses, including Necrotizing fasciitis.
The rare disease bacterial infection spreads quickly in the body and can cause death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Necrotizing fasciitis looks similar to other infections in its early stages often making it hard to diagnose, the centre said.
Quick treatment of the illness is important, and up to one and three people die from the infection, according to the CDC.
Wakely underwent surgery in an attempt to remove dead tissue, but the claim said he died just before 1:30 a.m. on March 2nd.
Stewart is suing four physicians and Northern Health for negligence, seeking compensation under the Family Compensation Act on behalf of herself, her son and her in-laws.