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Wrongful death lawsuit: Defendants claim man died after failing to take meds, delaying treatment

Union Leader Correspondent

June 23. 2018 1:54AM

NASHUA — A Greenville woman is suing Southern New Hampshire Health and one of its doctors, claiming medical negligence allowed a treatable infection to kill her husband.

The defendants say 55-year-old Michael C. Lockwood Sr. died after failing to take medications as prescribed and delaying treatment to save money.

Karen Lockwood filed a wrongful death civil suit after her husband died of sepsis in 2013 under the care of Dr. Abraham Jacob and Southern New Hampshire Health’s Immediate Care clinic.

According to court filings, Michael Lockwood first visited the Immediate Care clinic in Nashua on July 27, 2013, for a rash on his left ankle. He was diagnosed with a skin and soft tissue infection and was prescribed an oral antibiotic, according to court records.

Mr. Lockwood returned to the clinic Aug. 10 after the infection had not healed and was prescribed a different oral antibiotic. He returned again six days later telling staff the rash remained extensive and he was weeping, but no adjustments to the treatment regimen were made, according to Karen Lockwood’s claim.

On Aug. 30, Mr. Lockwood met again with Jacob and complained of the continuing rash, as well as severe pain in his right knee, according to the lawsuit. Jacob provided Lockwood with a non-urgent treatment plan for degenerative arthritis and gout, and ordered lab studies, the suit claims.

“Jacob called Michael at home to discuss his laboratory results, but did not inform Michael either that his results indicated likely systemic infection or that Michael’s results warranted an immediate trip to the emergency room,” reads the claim filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court South in Nashua.

Mr. Lockwood called Jacob back later that evening, at which time the physician relayed the same message to his wife, according to the lawsuit, which asserts that at no time did the doctor say test results warranted immediate emergency room care.

The following morning, Lockwood was transported to the emergency room with shortness of breath, weakness and pain, at which point he was intubated and diagnosed with sepsis and multiorgan system failure. He died later that night, according to court records.

Karen Lockwood’s suit asserts medical negligence and wrongful death in the failure to recognize symptoms of a persistent infection, failure to recognize that oral antibiotics were ineffective and failure to send her husband or to direct her husband to the emergency room for evaluation of possible sepsis, according to legal filings from attorney Benjamin Gideon of Berman & Simmons law firm, which represents Lockwood.

The defendants deny all allegations of liability and maintain the care provided was reasonable, appropriate and consistent with the applicable standard of care, court filings state.

Jacob told Karen Lockwood on the day prior to her husband’s death that Mr. Lockwood should receive hydration in a hospital setting since there was evidence of renal failure and lab results indicated stage-four chronic kidney disease, according to Jessica Cummings, the attorney representing Southern New Hampshire Health.

“The Lockwoods stated they preferred to go to the VA for financial reasons. Jacob told them there was a VA Urgent Care in Manchester. The Lockwoods stated they would follow-up,” Cummings writes in court records.

The defendants also allege Michael Lockwood didn’t follow doctor’s orders. According to their court filings, he stopped taking prescribed prednisone despite being told he must complete the entire course of the drug.

In court records, Jacob asserts Lockwood’s secondary infection on top of contact dermatitis likely started once he stopped taking the prednisone.

Karen Lockwood filed for bankruptcy after her husband’s death. In defense filings, Cummings asks the court to dismiss the lawsuit, citing Karen Lockwood’s failure to disclose the potential of the claim in her bankruptcy proceedings.

Jury selection originally scheduled for this month has been postponed until October. The trial is tentatively set to begin Oct. 16.

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