A widow living in Lake Country, British Columbia, filed a lawsuit alleging her husband’s staph infection was misdiagnosed three times in the emergency room before he died of necrotizing fasciitis — also known as flesh-eating disease — nearly two years ago.
Britney Stewart, 33, claims that none of the doctors who saw her husband during three separate visits to Fort St. John’s ordered tests that could have diagnosed the infection in February 2020.
Josh Wakeley died within days at the age of forty. He left behind Stewart and their two-year-old son.
“It was definitely the toughest two years of our lives,” Stewart said in an interview from her Lake Country home. “[And] The only person who will make everything better is the one who is gone.”
None of Stewart’s claims have been substantiated. Neither the doctors nor Northern Health filed a response in court.
3 trips to ER
Wakeley was in the Fort St John area to work before his death.
Stewart’s allegation came that her husband first visited the emergency room with a “severe sore throat” before midnight on February 24, 2020. Doctors did not clear Wakeley’s throat or perform a rapid test for strep, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the British Columbia Supreme Court. .
They treated Wakiley with Tylenol and fluids on suspicion of tonsillitis, and then sent him home.
The documents said paramedics sent Wakile back to hospital with back spasms on February 26.
“He took several medications that day, including 12 tablets of Robaxacet, seven tablets of Advil, seven tablets of Motrin, and one tablet of Tylenol with codeine, but he still rates his pain as 10/10,” the claim reads. .
Wakeley was sent home again a few hours later with Tylenol 3s and diagnosed with muscle spasms and sacroiliitis.
He returned to the emergency room for the third day in a row on February 27.
According to the prosecution, he was experiencing “pain, swelling and loss of sensation” in the arm from his right hand and wrist. He was diagnosed with hand and arm vibration syndrome – due to his work as a welder – and was sent home with advice to take Advil and avoid using vibrating tools.
Doctors who visited Wakile during his second and third visits are accused of failing to order lab tests or ordering a blood test. Stewart claimed that they did not refer to his previous visits either.
After Wakeley was discharged from the hospital for the third time, Stewart made the 2,000 km round trip to get him back to his home in the Okanagan.
A Northern Health spokesperson, contacted Thursday, said the authority could not comment.
“At this time, Northern Health has not been informed of this statement of claim. NH cannot comment further, as the litigation process is ongoing,” she said in an email.
The couple met 6 years ago
Stuart met Wakely for the first time on a job site in the area around Buckinghorse, BC, in 2014. She was the welder’s assistant assigned to the Wakely job and wasn’t initially looking for a relationship.
“It certainly started out as a friendship, but he later said to me, ‘The second I saw you…I knew I was going to marry you.'”
The couple bought a home together in Lake Country in 2016. They welcomed their son, Mason, the following year.
“Mason was the best thing that ever happened to him. He was so proud of being a dad,” Stewart said, adding that the couple were planning to have more children.
“Maybe one of the things I miss the most, is watching their relationship… like, there was nothing else,” she said.
“I think it’s hard for anyone to lose their wife, but it’s very hard for a young family to lose one of their parents, just because when you lose them, you also lose all the hopes and dreams that you had for the family…we lost that day we lost Josh.”
Streptococcus was diagnosed by a different hospital in Kelowna
Prosecutors said paramedics took Wakeley to Kelowna General Hospital the day after Stewart brought him home.
Laboratory work confirmed the presence of a bacterial infection, according to the lawsuit. Bacteria can cause a range of illnesses, ranging from minor cases of sore throats to life-threatening illnesses.
Necrotizing fasciitis can be caused by group A bacteria. It spreads quickly and is often difficult to diagnose because other infections can lead to similar symptoms, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The center said prompt treatment was “the key,” but as many as one in three people with the disease still died.
Wakley underwent surgery to try to remove the dead tissue, but the prosecution said he died before 1:30 a.m. on March 2.
Stewart is suing four doctors and Northern Health for negligence, and is seeking compensation under the Family Compensation Act on behalf of herself, her son, and her in-laws.
“Mr. Wakeley has been subjected to the medical care, treatment and professional services of the accused,” the prosecution read. “Because of the defendants’ negligence…Mr. Wakley died.”