Yellowknife man dies after bacterial infection diagnosis missed twice

The family of a Yellowknife man who died due to complications from a bacterial infection say a delay in diagnosis may have cost him his life.

Stanton emergency room and medical clinic both sent him home; later medevaced to Edmonton

Michael Francois, 33, died Saturday in an Edmonton hospital while being treated for a streptococcus pneumoniae infection that caused his organs to shut down. According to his sister, doctors there were disappointed the infection was not caught earlier. (submitted)

A Yellowknife man who suffered organ failure due to complications from a bacterial infection died in an Edmonton hospital Saturday.

Michael Francois, 33, had been receiving treatment at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton for a streptococcus pneumoniae infection. Machines kept him alive for nearly two weeks after his lungs, liver, and kidneys shut down. 

"The infection went through his bloodstream and organs," said Helen Minoza, Francois' sister. 

"It got to the point where he had double pneumonia and all of his organs failed."

Minoza told CBC Sunday that Francois' lungs got worse and doctors told her they couldn't do anything else for him.

On Oct. 24, Minoza says, Francois went to Stanton Territorial Hospital, but a nurse in the emergency room sent him home. Two days later, Francois sought help at a local medical clinic. A doctor there prescribed him an inhaler and again sent him home.

After three more days passed, Francois could barely walk. His family helped him back to the hospital Oct. 29, where he was admitted immediately and medevaced to Alberta the following morning.

According to Minoza, doctors in Alberta were disappointed that Francois' infection was not detected earlier in Yellowknife.

'I don't understand why he was not treated seriously'

Minoza wants answers from the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority. She says her brother was shy, and trusted the medical system, only to be let down.

"I don't understand why he was not treated seriously," says Minoza.

"This should not have to happen in our health care system in this day and age."

The health authority says it does not speak to individual cases and would not confirm whether the department is investigating Francois' treatment.

Minoza says she has not yet filed an official complaint with the health authority, but she plans to.

Minoza had been raising money to help cover the expenses for Francois' family to be at his side. She has raised $450 so far, out of a goal of $5,000.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says streptococcus pneumonia infections are a major cause of illness and death worldwide. The infection is also a common cause of invasive disease, such as pneumonia, bacteremia, and meningitis.


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