Chicken bone mishap leaves man a quadriplegic

Shane Barnbrook is urging people not to wait to see a doctor, even for an "embarrassing" problem (Shane Barnbrook / Google+)
Shane Barnbrook is urging people not to wait to see a doctor, even for an "embarrassing" problem (Shane Barnbrook / Google+)

A man from Victoria, Australia who was left a quadriplegic after swallowing a chicken bone is suing two hospitals for misdiagnosis.

It started with Shane Barnbrook accidentally swallowing the bone during dinner.

But it ended in such excruciating pain, his family were told to say their final goodbyes.

Mr Barnbrook knew the bone needed to come out one way or another and while it was painful, didn't think to go to the doctor, Fairfax Media reports.

Part of a wishbone did make it through his system, but over the next few days he felt tired and had indigestion.

At one point his chest tightened up, leading his wife Sarah, heavily pregnant with their third child, to call an ambulance.

Mr Barnbrook had pain down one arm and felt anxious.

He was taken to Seymour Hospital north of Melbourne where he told staff he had "10/10" anal pain and was checked by a nurse and doctor but they found nothing abnormal.

Mr Barnbrook was eventually sent home with painkillers and haemorrhoid cream, but had to go back to hospital just a day later.

He was then rushed to Northern Hospital for more advanced care where staff noticed a perforation in his medical record.

Surgeons operated on his abdomen and while they noted some infection, they didn't look for a perforation in his rectum.

Mr Barnbrook got worse.

It wasn't until three days after the initial operation, surgeons opened him up again and allegedly failed to check for any perforation.

It was after that his wife was told her husband was critically ill in intensive care and wasn't likely to survive.

But a third surgery found a hole in his rectum and a profound abscess on his abdominal wall which they tried to treat.

The discovery meant Mr Barnbrook could be treated for sepsis - harmful bacteria and toxins in tissue, typically through an infected wound - but when he woke up in intensive care a week later he was a quadriplegic.

It was caused by 'critical illness neuropathy' - which can happen after an infection.

He was at Northern Hospital for a year afterward and spent three more in rehabilitation and a nursing home before going home this year.

During that time, Ms Barnbrook gave birth to their third child and spent much of her time travelling the around 100km between Seymour and Melbourne with the couple's young children.

Mr Barnbrook is suing the two hospitals for not listening to him and not acting quick enough to help him.

His lawyer, Tom Ballantyne says the "tragic" case "illustrates the catastrophic and life-changing consequences that can stem from medical errors".

Spokespeople for the hospitals declined to comment to Fairfax Media.

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