On January 5th, 2013 Mario Guzman went running in the hills near his house with his wife. In spite of some nasal congestion and weakness for the past few weeks, he ran thinking exercising might make him feel better. During his run, he twisted his ankle. But even with this pain, he finished his jog on his way home.
During the weekend, he was able to continue doing all his normal activities, however, on Monday January 7th, his ankle suddenly got swollen and red. It started to hurt so much he could not put any weight on it. He also started to have a fever of 100F.
Given that his condition did not improve, Guzman and his wife made an appointment to see a doctor on January 8th. The doctor was hurried and did a bare-bones examination that lasted about 10 minutes, and quickly diagnosed him as having the flu and a sprained ankle. Even though the results of the x-ray came negative for a sprain, and his clinical presentation at that point was consistent with either a joint or soft tissue infection. It was below the standard of care to diagnose him with flu as his nasal congestion was an old symptom which did not worse as it would be expected when infected with influenza.
During the following days, his condition did not improve after following the advice of the advice of the doctor. After providing constant updates to Kaiser Permanente about the worsening of his condition, the advice we got was to stay home and wait for the flu to subside, without asking for something as simple as a $30 blood test to rule out sepsis as a possible cause.
The advice that was given to us delayed at their arrival to the hospital between 10-24 hours. Until the last minute they tried to downplay his symptoms and only suggested that he go to the ER if he reported pain levels a 10 out of 10 on his injuries. By the time we arrived to the emergency room, he was already septic and in toxic shock caused by streptococcus pyogenes – a common bacteria easily treatable with antibiotics such as penicillin.
He then spent 4.5 months hospitalized and lost portions of all his limbs as a consequence of both the infection and the treatment used to save his life. More importantly, he is paralyzed due to severe nerve damage caused by sepsis. Only because a doctor did not want to run $30 worth of tests and medications.
During the ordeal, Guzman and his wife made multiple requests for Kaiser ti improve their protocols for diagnosing sepsis. But these pleas fell on def ears. In spite of the fall out, the doctors who were responsible are still on the payroll, continue to practice at the clinic, all without any disciplinary actions.
In the end, they filed a lawsuit which went to private arbitration. The arbitrator ruled that even though the doctor didn’t act within the standard of care, all he was entitled to was $250,000.00.