SACRAMENTO — A Northern California man whose hands and legs were amputated is suing a hospital for medical malpractice, saying he was consistently misdiagnosed until it was too late to save his limbs.

The Sacramento Bee ( ) says 48-year-old Robert Downey blames the loss of his hands and limbs on Sutter Memorial Hospital, saying doctors failed to diagnose and treat him properly for an MSSA infection.

Methicillin-sensitive staphylococcus aureus is typically treatable with antibiotics if caught early.

During a Thursday news conference announcing the lawsuit, Downey lawyer Moseley Collins said the suit is designed to get Sutter Health to take responsibility and warn other hospitals about the consequences of malpractice.

Downey and his wife, Cheri, say the Sacramento hospital failed repeatedly to properly diagnose the infection even though their 11-year-old son had been treated in 2011 for the similar infection at the hospital.

When a sore developed on Downey weeks after his son's treatment, he said he was treated by the same physician's assistant who helped his son, but not given any antibiotics.

Days later, on a third visit to the hospital, he reported shoulder pain and was told by a different physician's assistant that the sore and shoulder were not related, he said. Downey was diagnosed with bursitis.

"Hindsight is 20-20. I probably should have pressed harder," about the bursitis diagnosis, Downey told the paper.

Downey, a former county correctional officer, collapsed two days later at home, and days later had his first amputations — his hands and feet. Later, his lower legs were removed.

Sutter Health spokesman Gary Zavoral declined comment on Downey's case and the lawsuit.


Information from: The Sacramento Bee,