A man is suing CHI Mercy Medical Center, Umpqua Orthopedics and two doctors for alleged negligence that led to his wife’s death four days after she shut her hand in a car door in 2017.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Douglas County Circuit Court on June 29 by Allan Kusler, seeks up to $1.2 million in economic and noneconomic damages.
The complaint alleges that Marilyn Kusler went to CHI Mercy Medical Center on July 9, 2017, after shutting her hand in a car door the day before.
Her right thumb was swollen and bruised and Marilyn Kusler complained of lightheadedness, according to a copy of the lawsuit. The emergency department doctor diagnosed her with mild dehydration and discharged her, according to court documents.
The following morning Marilyn Kusler was confused and agitated so her husband called 911 around 9:30 a.m.
Around 3:40 p.m. a doctor examined Marilyn Kusler’s thumb and noted it “had dark discoloration and a laceration oozing blood,” according to court documents.
The doctor was suspicious that Marilyn Kusler might have been suffering from necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease, according to court documents.
Marilyn Kusler was admitted into the intensive care unit for a urinary tract infection, septic shock, renal failure and acute metabolic encephalopathy, or abnormalities in chemicals that affect brain function.
Around 5 p.m., Nicholes Sexton, an orthopedic surgeon, evaluated Marilyn Kusler. He put her thumb in a splint and said he would check on her the next day, according to court documents.
Two hours later, Razvan Gosman, a doctor at Mercy Medical Center, charted that he could not get Kusler’s blood pressure. Gosman stated that Kusler’s “severely injured right thumb” could be the source of sepsis, according to court documents.
The suit alleges that Mercy staff failed to monitor Kusler’s thumb during the night and didn’t report her vital signs to a doctor. On July 11, Kusler’s right arm was reported to be cold and swollen.
Doctor Susan Williams consulted with specialists at Oregon Health and Science University, who recommended surgery, according to court documents.
After surgery, Kusler was flown to OHSU where multiple surgeons operated on her, amputating her right arm and removing infectious tissue from her chest wall. According to court documents, her condition deteriorated overnight and she died on July 12.
The suit alleges that the defendants were negligent by failing to timely diagnose necrotizing fasciitis, by failing to properly treat the disease and by failing to transfer her to OHSU in a timely manner.
The family is seeking $1 million in non-economic damages and $200,750 for medical costs, funeral expenses and loss of services.
Representatives for Mercy declined to comment.
Derek Johnson, Allan Kusler’s attorney, did not return calls in time for deadline.