Posted in: Bizarre Accident of the Week, In this week's e-newsletter, Injuries, Latest News & Views, Safety training
An employee says he cut his knuckle while working in a Wal-Mart warehouse and was exposed to flesh-eating bacteria. Now he’s suing the retail giant.
Stephan Stewart worked at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Tobyhanna, PA. His job included cleaning and sorting wooden pallets.
One day, Stewart cut his knuckle while removing debris inside a pallet.
The pallets at the warehouse allegedly contained wood dust, bird droppings, shards of glass and plastic, and rusty nails.
His lawsuit says he sustained necrotizing fasciitis, one form of which is commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria. The word “necrotizing” refers to something that causes body tissue to die.
Stewart says he underwent numerous surgeries, including several skin grafts, and he had to be placed in a medically induced coma. The lawsuit says he also suffers from decreased right arm mobility, decreased right arm function, chronic pain and a need for continued therapy and rehabilitation.
The lawsuit accuses Wal-Mart of negligence, alleging the distribution center was in an “unreasonably unsafe and unsanitary condition.” The suit says employees weren’t trained about maintenance and cleaning at the facility.
Stewart seeks damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest and damages.
Flesh-eating bacteria prevention
The National Institutes of Health say necrotizing fasciitis often enters the body through a minor cut or scrape. The bacteria grows and releases harmful toxins that kill tissue. Next, the bacteria spreads rapidly throughout the body.
- small, red, painful lump on the skin
- changes to a very painful bruise-like area which grows rapidly, sometimes in less than an hour
- a black center, and
- an open wound that oozes fluid.
These symptoms can also be accompanied by dizziness and fever.
When workers suffer a cut or scrape, they can help prevent this and other infections by thoroughly cleaning the wound. If they experience the symptoms listed above, they should seek medical attention immediately.