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Ohio Family Sues Over Alleged Negligence that Led to the Death of Michael R. Gillen

On a Friday in April 2016, Michael R. Gillen woke up with a fever, a cough, congestion, and an aching body. That night as his symptoms worsened he was brought to the Holzer Clinic, his local medical provider in Ohio. Doctors at the clinic found that he had a temperature of 102.2 and tested him for influenza and strep throat. A malpractice lawsuit, filed last month by Gillen’s family, alleges that despite the tests showing he did not suffer from the flu or strep, he was discharged with no further examinations and prescribed Tamiflu. Gillen’s family claims that due to a series of missteps by a number of medical professionals, Michael R. Gillen lost his life five days later.

After the initial consultation, Gillen’s symptoms did not improve and his right leg began to swell and ache. On April 18th, three days after his visit to the Holzer Clinic, the pain became so severe that he was rushed to the emergency room at the OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital in Athens. After an evaluation the attending physician at O’Bleness misdiagnosed Gillen with deep-vein thrombosis, or a blood clot in the leg, which can become serious if the clot loosens and finds its way into the lung. Gillen was prescribed Lovenox to treat the thrombosis. He was also diagnosed with “flu-like symptoms” and tachycardia, which is an irregular sitting heart rate.

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The doctor at O’Bleness scheduled an ultra-sound for the next morning and discharged Gillen. The lawsuit alleges that Gillen’s family asked if he could be treated at another hospital that night, but the request was disregarded. Early the next morning the pain in Gillen’s leg became so intense he had to be rushed back to the emergency room just after 5 a.m. on April 19th. An ultra-sound then showed that he was not suffering from deep-vein thrombosis and the Lovenox was prescribed erroneously. Gillen was given painkillers at which time his father inquired if antibiotics might help, but he was told that it would not.

The lawsuit alleges that by 8 a.m., Gillen’s test results and condition met the Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome criteria that under proper procedure would require doctors to administer antibiotics and intravenous fluids. But that never happened and a few hours later Gillen went into cardiac arrest. He was resuscitated and transported to the Ohio State University Medical Center by helicopter. Doctors there quickly diagnosed Gillen with necrotizing fasciitis, a “flesh-eating” bacteria, in his right leg.

Doctors at the Ohio State University Medical Center immediately began treating the necrotizing fasciitis, which is correctable if diagnosed right away, but it had become too advanced. Michael R. Gillen died on April 20th at the age of 43. Gillen’s family has filed suit against the OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, the Holzer Clinic, Athens Medical Associates, and the involved emergency-room physicians for their negligence, which they claim led to the wrongful death of Michael, the father of two young children.

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