Over the course of her lifetime, Paula Schulte survived painful scoliosis that contorted her spine, a head injury that left her in a coma for weeks, and cancer that cost her part of a lung.
What she couldn’t survive was 11 weeks in Florida hospitals.
Schulte, 64, was living an engaged life — staying in touch daily with her daughter, Stephanie Sinclair, a photojournalist, and taking afternoon drives with her husband, Joe. When she suffered an unexpected bout of seizures in August 2012, doctors said she would need only a short hospital stay until the drugs kicked in to remedy things.
Instead, her treatment triggered a cascade of medical mistakes.
A fall from bed broke her hip and wrist — injuries that went undiagnosed for days. A hip replacement became infected, requiring another surgery. A displaced IV pumped a caustic drug into her arm until it ballooned to the size of a melon.
Schulte died as a rare syndrome, thought to be triggered by a reaction to medication, blistered her eyelids and attacked her internal organs. Doctors said it was the type of condition they had only read about in textbooks.