By LYDIA WARREN
PUBLISHED: 13:31 EST, 22 June 2012 | UPDATED: 13:59 EST, 22 June 2012
A woman who went to hospital to have a cyst removed and ended up in a coma with no hands or feet after her body was ravaged by a flesh-eating bacteria is suing the hospital she claims botched her operation.
A lawsuit filed by Lisa-Maria Carter, 46, claims Dr. Larry Glazerman mistakenly sliced through her small bowel when carrying out the procedure in Tampa, Florida and sewed her up without realising.
The suit claims that necrotizing fasciitis bacteria lurks in the intestine harmlessly but can cause infections if it is pierced – which caused a massive infection, internal damage and limb loss for Carter.
Everyday struggle: Lisa-Maria Carter is suing a doctor after she went in for a routine ovarian cyst operation and contracted a flesh-eating bacteria that claimed her limbs. She now lives in a nursing home
Life changing: Carter, who is suing for medical bills and around-the-clock medical care for the rest of her life, was in a coma for a month and awoke to see blackened limbs that were later removed
It means that the grandmother, who was about to leave for Iraq as an intelligence analyst with the Department of Defense before the operation in November 2010, now has no abdominal muscles, feet or hands, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
She lives in a nursing home, where she is learning how to walk again and use a prosthetic arm – but admits there are days she can’t pick up a spoon and ‘you want to throw your tray across the room’.
She is suing the doctor, Tampa General Hospital and the University of South Florida for $40 million to cover around-the-clock medical care for life, medical bills, a driver and future procedures.
‘All this for a woman who told her friend to pick her up four hours after surgery and does not leave the hospital until six months later, with no hands or feet,’ her attorney Kennan Dandar told the Times.
Old life: Carter had been about to move to Iraq as an intelligence analyst with the Department of Defense
Determination: Nearly two years since she went for the operation, Carter is learning how to walk again
Before Carter went to Iraq, she needed outpatient surgery to remove a cyst on her ovary, but she was assured she could return home within a few hours of the operation.
During the operation, Dr. Glazerman mistakenly sliced through her small bowel and sewed her up without noticing, the lawsuit claims.
A day after the surgery, a nurse was helping her go to the bathroom when her incision opened and ‘copious’ amounts of fluid oozed out, according to the suit.
She had low blood pressure and was incoherent. Test were ordered, yet some were cancelled, the suit said.
Three days after the first operation, another doctor opened up Carter and found the small bowel ‘almost completely sliced through’, the Times reported.
Grueling: Carter, who also lost parts of her stomach and intestines to the bacteria, uses prosthetic limbs
Resilience: Carter said she tries to stay positive because she was close to death but survived
He found dead tissue ‘consistent with necrotizing fasciitis’ in the abdomen and cut it away, the suit said.
Lawsuit: Carter is suing Dr Larry Glazerman for mistakenly slicing her small bowel and not realising, which she said led to the infection
She underwent a further eight operations in 12 days as surgeons tried to beat the bacteria, cutting away parts of her stomach, intestines and muscle.
She was medicated for low blood pressure, yet the blood flow to her extremities was constricted, meaning her hands and feet, as well as her forearms and lower legs, had to be amputated.
‘Most doctors and experts believe there was a few-hour time frame in there where all of this could have been corrected,’ Carter told the Times.
She said that she was in a medically-induced coma for the first 30 days, but remembers waking up and seeing black hands – which she mistook for her black driving gloves.
‘I thought. “Why do I have my gloves on my hands?”‘ she said.
She now undergoes constant rehabilitation using prosthetic limbs, which respond to electrical impulses from muscles just below her elbows and knees.
Video footage at the nursing home shows her grappling with the new limbs to lift cones and throw a ball to nursing staff.
She said: ‘I do have my moments of course where I’m sad, where I’m angry and you know I take that, deal with it and keep on going.
Scene: The suit claims the error was exacerbated by mistakes made by other staff at Tampa General Hospital
‘I’m upbeat and positive because my understand is that I coded five times on the table and I’m still here and still alive.’
Dr Glazerman, who has no record of complaints in Florida, is the director of the minimally invasive gynecologic surgery program at USF. He did not respond to a request for a comment.
There has been a spate of cases of flesh-eating bacteria across South Carolina and Georgia in recent months.
One victim, 24-year-old Aimee Copeland, lost all her limbs after contracting the bacteria when she fell from a zip line in Atlanta, Georgia in May. After falling, a cut to her leg became infected.
NECROTIZING FASCIITIS: THE VICIOUS FLESH-EATING DISEASE
Necrotizing fasciitis, more commonly known as ‘flesh-eating disease’, is a rare but extremely vicious bacterial infection. ‘Necrotizing’ refers to something that causes body tissue to die, and the infection can destroy skin, muscles and fat.
The disease develops when the bacteria enters the body, often through a minor cut or scrape. As the bacteria multiply, they release toxins that kill tissue and cut off blood flow to the area.
Because it is so virulent, the bacteria spreads rapidly throughout the body.
Symptoms include small, red lumps or bumps on the skin, rapidly-spreading bruising, sweating, chills, fever and nausea. Organ failure and shock are also common complications.
Sufferers must be treated immediately to prevent death, and are usually given powerful antibiotics and surgery to remove dead tissue. Amputation can become necessary if the disease spreads through an arm or leg.
Patients may undergo skin grafts after the infection has cleared up, to help the healing process or for aesthetic reasons.
There are 500 to 1,500 cases reported a year, but 20 to 25 percent of victims die.