Indianapolis woman dies after contracting flesh-eating bacteria on vacation, family says

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - An Indianapolis woman died after her family says she contracted a flesh-eating bacterium while on vacation. She did not get the right treatment from a local hospital, according to the family.

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

What started as a small bump, grew into a large, painful and deadly infection.

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

The infection showed up after Carol's family says she contracted a flesh-eating bacterium 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,” said Martin.

Carol passed away last week.

“The way they handled all this is screwed up,” said Martin.

Richard believes the 50-year-old wife, mother and grandmother did not receive the proper medical treatment.

“I feel like they did not want to do that because she did not have insurance,” said Martin.

The Martins say they went to the doctor three times. First, the family says they went to Franciscan Health immediate care and then went to the Franciscan Health ER. The family says they were sent home twice with antibiotics and a heating pad, which they believe 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,” said Martin.

The family says the next trip to the ER ended in emergency surgery after they say medical professionals at Franciscan Health 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,” said Martin.

We reached out to Franciscan Health. A spokesperson with the hospital sent CBS4 this statement:

“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.”

The serious bacterial skin infection spreads quickly and kills the bodies soft tissue. The CDC says an accurate diagnosis, strong antibiotics, and surgery are important to stop this infection. Doctor Joette Giovinco says treating flesh-eating bacteria can be challenging.

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

Richard says he is now paying out of pocket for an autopsy to find out exact details about his wife’s passing. He is waiting to hear back on the results.

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

Carol’s family says they are seeking legal help to get answers to their questions they say they have been asking the hospital for months.

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