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Man Says ER Negligence Led to Penis Surgery

BALTIMORE (CN) - A Baltimore man says he lost his scrotum and most of his penis in a radical surgery necessitated by the failure of emergency room staff at his local hospital to properly diagnose his swollen and extremely painful scrotum in February 2007.

Robert Williams, 43, a diabetic with a history of obesity and abscess infections, had suffered though two days of growing pain and swelling on the left side of his scrotum when he reached out to his personal physician for help, according to his complaint in Baltimore County Court.

Dr. Fernando Ferro allegedly told Williams to go directly to the emergency room of the Franklin Square Hospital Center in Baltimore, where he was triaged, given pain medication and antibiotics, and sent home with a diagnosis of testicular pain.

But over the next two days, Williams says he experienced several set backs: the pain and the swelling he was experiencing grew progressively worse, he had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics he'd been given, and a major snowstorm temporarily closed his urologist's office, causing the cancellation of a follow-up appointment he'd scheduled.

In severe and unremitting pain, Williams went to the emergency room at a second hospital, where a thorough examination revealed that a rapidly spreading gangrene had infected his scrotal tissues and the base of his penis, the complaint states.

By then, Williams says his only option was to undergo emergency surgery in which a large amount of necrotic tissue was removed from his penis and scrotum. As part of the surgery, the outer tissue of his scrotum was removed, and his testicles were placed in pockets that had been cut into his inner thighs. Skin grafts were used to help seal the pockets and to fill a gaping hole left in his penis, the complaint says.

Williams is suing the first ER he visited, at the Franklin Square Hospital Center, for medical malpractice and negligence.

He claims the radical, life-changing surgery could have been prevented had ER staff adequately investigated his medical history, performed a proper exam, given him the right antibiotic therapy, and admitted him to the hospital for continued treatment and observation.

He claims that since the operation, he has experienced enormous physical disfigurement, pain, suffering and mental anguish. He adds that he and his wife Katherine have suffered "permanent damage to their marriage relationship."

The Williamses are represented by Kathleen Meredith and David Wildberger of Iliff & Meredith in Pasadena, Md.

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