Redmond girl nearly loses leg -- and life -- to flesh eating bacteria

by: Amy Clancy Updated:

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REDMOND, Wash. - A Redmond couple is suing EvergreenHealth for negligence after their daughter contracted necrotizing fasciitis -- or flesh-eating disease.

The teenage daughter of Mike and Kristen Mossman, who's identified in King County Superior Court documents as "M.M." was running during cross country practice in August of 2012 when she fell on a trail and was injured. According to the complaint, M.M. was taken to EvergreenHealth Primary Care in Redmond and treated by Dr. Liqun Zhu. Dr. Zhu, according to the lawsuit, told the girl's mother "that she properly cleaned and sutured the wound."

Mike Mossman, M.M.'s father, told KIRO 7's Amy Clancy the same thing: "Dr. Zhu explained to my wife that she had done such a good job of cleaning out the wound that antibiotics wouldn't be necessary."

Mossman said his daughter was then sent home without any written instructions or antibiotics, and that his wife was told to keep the bandage on the girl's wound for 24 hours.

That same night, according to the lawsuit, Mossman's daughter woke up in "extreme pain." When her parents removed her bandage after the 24 hours was up, as instructed, the girl's leg was "swollen, red, and infected."

M.M. was taken to Group Health in Bellevue, then immediately transported via ambulance to Seattle Children's Hospital where "surgery was immediately performed," according to court documents.

The complaint also reveals that when doctors at Seattle Children's opened M.M.'s wound, they "found a significant amount of foreign body, sediment, dirt and a small twig sewn-up inside the wound."

Mike and Kristen Mossman claim, as a result of the bacteria in the dirt, twig and foreign matter sewed into in their daughter's wound, M.M. developed necrotizing fasciitis -- or flesh-eating bacteria --- which required months of hospitalization and 20 surgeries.

M.M., now a junior at Redmond High School, has a scar that extends from below her knee to her waist. "People stare, people look at it," her father told Clancy on Friday. "She had some kids ask her if she was attacked by a shark." Mossman said doctors at Seattle Children's even considered amputating M.M.'s leg during her treatment.

The Mossmans' attorney, Sim Osborn of Osborn Machler in Seattle, said this is an example of negligence because the treatment by Dr. Zhu and the hospital "fell below a reasonable standard of care."

"It didn't have to happen, and it shouldn't have happened," Osborn said. "When you don't pay attention to the details, horrible consequences occur."

Osborn would not discuss how much the family is suing for, but did say their medical bills for months of treatment and 20 surgeries are astronomical.

Meanwhile, EvergreenHealth released the following statement: "Out of respect for and deference to the privacy of the patient and her family, we are very limited to what we can say regarding this matter. We take this situation very seriously and wish the patient the very best in her recovery."