Woman Dies after Contracting Flesh-Eating Bacteria on Florida Vacation, Family Says

May 15, 2018 Last Updated: August 2, 2018

A woman died 2 months after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria while on vacation in Florida. Her husband believes doctors could have saved her if they had correctly diagnosed her earlier.

Carol Martin, 50, traveled to Clearwater, Florida, in February for a family vacation and to watch racing. After the family returned to Indianapolis from their trip, Carol noticed she had a sore on her buttock.

“She had like a pimple come up on her right butt cheek. She said it was kind of painful,” her husband, Richard Martin told WFLA.

Martin said his wife went to the doctor’s office to get the sore, which he likened the initial size of it to a penny or a dime, checked out. They first visited Franciscan Health immediate care, and later visited the Franciscan Health ER. She was sent home on the first two occasions with antibiotics and a heating pad, according to the family.

Martin believes his wife did not receive proper medical treatment.

“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, Fox 59 reported.

“I feel like they did not want to do that because she did not have insurance,” said Martin. “The way they handled all this is screwed up.”

When the treatments didn’t work and the infection got worse, Carol went back to St. Francis Hospital a third time—and was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis.

“In the emergency room they said ‘we are sorry but she has a flesh-eating bacteria, we have to rush her to surgery right now,'” Martin told WRTV.

Carol underwent two major surgeries and spent 16 days in intensive care. Just days after her release, Carol passed away at home.

“She made me lunch, I kissed her goodbye to go to work. I come home early in the morning and found her passed away,” Martin said, through tears. “We should have the answers and know why this went where it did.”

He believes his wife may have contracted the infection at the Florida hotel’s hot tub.

“My thing is, nobody else got it, the flesh-eating bacteria. She was the only one that got in the hot tub,” he told WFLA.

The coroner’s office in Indianapolis, Marion County Coroner, said they have collected tissue samples and are analyzing the infected area to determine if the bacteria was a contributing factor in her death.

Lab tests may take up to 12 weeks to yield results.

A spokesperson with the Franciscan Health hospital sent Fox59 a 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.”

Necrotizing fasciitis is a serious bacterial skin infection that only affects between 600 and 1200 people in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The condition is rapidly progressive and can kill if not treated promptly.

Symptoms can start within hours of an infection, and can be easily misdiagnosed in the early stages. Such symptoms may include warm and red or purplish swelling that spreads quickly; ulcers, blisters or black spots on skin; chills and or fever; fatigue, tiredness; and vomiting. Those who notice these symptoms following a wound should consult a doctor right away.

By Mimi Nguyen Ly