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March: Lake Country man dies of flesh-eating disease

Top story for March 2022

A Lake Country man died of flesh-eating disease at the Kelowna General Hospital in March 2020, after allegedly visiting a Fort St. John Hospital and not receiving a proper diagnosis.

Then two years later, a Lake Country widow and mother filed a lawsuit against the Northern Health Authority and several physicians, claiming her husband’s death was the result of a series of misdiagnoses.

Britney Stewart claims that during her husband Josh Wakely’s three visits to Fort St. John Hospital, doctors failed to order tests that could have identified the disease that killed him: necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease.

Court documents state that on Feb. 24, 2020, Wakely went to the emergency department with a severe sore throat. ” Doctors didn’t swab his throat, conduct a rapid strep test or take blood work. Wakely was diagnosed with tonsillitis and treated with fluids, Tylenol and liquid lidocaine, before being sent home.

The next day, Wakely’s symptoms had worsened and he was having back spasms. He was taken to hospital by ambulance.

Wakely was given his second diagnosis, muscle spasm and sacroiliitis, as well as some Tylenol 3 to take home with him.

Wakely’s condition continued to worsen on Feb. 27. He returned to the emergency department with pain, swelling and a loss of sensation on his right side. He was given a third diagnosis of hand-arm vibration syndrome, which aligned with his work as a welder. He then returned home to Lake Country later that evening.

Then on March 1, Wakely was shuttled to Kelowna General Hospital in severe septic shock, where lab work confirmed he had a strep A infection, according to the claim. Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection that can be caused by strep A.

Doctors conducted surgery to remove the infected tissue, but Wakely died just before 1:30 p.m. March 2, at age 40, leaving behind his wife and son, who was two years old at the time.

Stewart is suing Northern Health Authority and the four physicians for negligence, seeking payment under the Family Compensation Act.

Stewart’s claims have not been proven, and the defendants have not yet filed a response in court.

Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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