Woman Dies After Contracting Flesh-Eating Bacteria on Florida Vacation, Family Says

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An Indianapolis woman died after her family said she contracted flesh-eating bacteria while on vacation, according to KTLA sister station WXIN.

The family of Carol Martin, 50, said she did not get the right treatment from a local hospital.

“They said that they thought it was an abscess or something under the skin,” said her husband, Richard Martin.

What started as a small bump grew into a large, painful and deadly infection that took her life last week.

“Like a penny or a dime," Richard Martin said. "It was small. She thought it was a pimple. Then the next time it was like this big."

The infection showed up after the family said she contracted a flesh-eating bacteria in February, while on vacation in Florida.

“The only thing different that happened was that Carol got into the hot tub. That is where I think that it stems from,” Richard Martin said.

He said his wife, a mother and a grandmother, did not receive the proper medical treatment.

“The way they handled all this is screwed up,” Richard Martin said. “I feel like they did not want to do that because she did not have insurance."

The Martins said they went to the doctor three times – first to Franciscan Health immediate care and then went to the Franciscan Health ER. They were sent home twice with antibiotics and a heating pad, according to the family, which they believed just made the infection worse.

“At least by the second time they should have decided 'this is growing and maybe we should take a culture of it and see what it is,'”Richard Martin said.

The family said the next trip to the ER ended in emergency surgery after Franciscan Health doctors diagnosed Carol with necrotizing fasciitis.

“The doctor comes rushing in the room and says, 'Listen we have got to take her to surgery now. She has flesh-eating bacteria.' My jaw hit the ground,” Richard Martin said.

The serious bacterial skin infection spreads quickly and kills the body's soft tissue.  An accurate diagnosis, strong antibiotics and surgery are important to stop this infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s really difficult when you have to treat a patient like this because things can go badly very quickly,” said Dr. Joette Giovinco.

Richard Martin told WXIN he is now paying out of pocket for an autopsy to find out more details about his wife’s death. Those results were still pending.

“I mean these days are ruined … Mother’s Day … all ruined forever,” Martin said.

The family said they were seeking legal help to get answers to questions they say they have been asking the hospital for months.

Franciscan Health sent this statement to WXIN:

“We are sorry to learn of the passing of their family member and our deepest heartfelt prayers and thoughts are with her loved ones. Because of federal privacy guidelines, Franciscan Health cannot provide any details about the patients care as were committed to protecting personal health information.”

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