Doctors are human too. And that can be scary. When we are unwell, or worse yet, our children are sick, we hope that the doctor will be able to solve all our problems. But just because someone went to medical school and had years of experience on the job, does not mean they are going to be able to ensure your good health. Your condition might be unique. It might be hard to identify. Or a doctor might simply make a mistake.
When Magdalena Malec was pregnant, she was overjoyed. She loved being a mother, and she loved babies. And with her third child on the way, she knew how to do this. But when Christmas day arrived in 2014, her pregnancy became a nightmare. She miscarried and was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy.
Doctors sent her home with pain medication. But days later, she was in agony. She was rushed to the operating room to be treated for the ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilized egg gets stuck in the fallopian tubes.
Her temperature rose. A rash developed on her skin. Her condition only grew worse. Doctors did not know what to do. And they suspected she was having an allergic reaction to the antibiotics.
Doctors swapped medications. But that did nothing to stop her sickness. Her condition worsened.
Then she went into septic shock. Blood clots formed throughout her body. And she suffered kidney damage.
Her attorney, David Thomas, explained that she would go on to lose both legs below the knees, her right arm below the elbow and the fingers from her left hand. She was maimed because doctors did not know what was wrong with her.
“Now my life is not a life. It is vegetation — a fight for life,” Malec said in a recent statement. “I am not the kind of person who likes to ask for help, but now I am forced to because I meet obstacles everywhere I turn. Every failure brings on difficult situations at home, which is badly affecting my quality of life.”
Now Malec has filed a lawsuit against the hospital for failing to notice the warning signs of sepsis. Sepsis occurs when the immune system response harms the person’s body and leads to organ failure. It is life-threatening.
Doctors had enough warning signs to diagnose sepsis. Her body temperature was high. Her heart rate was high. But they didn’t.
Mayo Clinic describes that sepsis causes “blood flow to vital organs, such as your brain, heart, and kidneys, (to) become impaired (and) causes blood clots to form in your organs and in your arms, legs, fingers, and toes — leading to varying degrees of organ failure and tissue death.”
Four months after her miscarriage, Malec waited for doctors to act.
“I was waiting for six months for the amputation of my limbs, with stinking and decaying legs and arms,” Malec told the South West News Service. “Nothing will restore what I had. I will never paint my nails again. I will never make a ponytail for my daughter.”
She wants justice. But in the meantime, she is learning to adapt.
“I am learning how to live with pain,” she added. “Going out and coping with the way people look at me is very difficult, and so is self-acceptance.”