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Widower sues doctors for misdiagnosis and death of patient

One substantial area of medical malpractice in Maryland and other states is the misdiagnosis of patients’ conditions. This is often seen in the failure to diagnose a serious, progressive illness, such as some form of cancer. Or, it could be the failure to diagnose an existing infection that is on the verge of killing the patient within days or hours. These situations often result in a death of patient and a lawsuit by the family against the physician and others.

In one case, a 46-year-old woman was admitted to a hospital on May 10, 2008, with complaints of severe headache. She underwent the repair of a cerebral aneurysm. The next day she suffered severe nausea, and within a week was expelling a foul-smelling liquid that eventually became bloody. She died on May 18, 2008 as a result of a massive sepsis infection.

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed in a Louisiana state court. It claims damages for death, pain and suffering, and contains a loss of consortium claim made by her surviving husband, the plaintiff in the case. The precise details of what took place for that one-week period after the operation are not known at this time. Sepsis is a massive attack of bacterial infection that generally spreads throughout the body and is so toxic that it destroys the patient’s major organisms.

If the woman was in the hospital or otherwise regularly examined by the doctors during that period between May 10 and May 17, then there is a strong claim that they reasonably should have known of the sepsis and taken corrective action. Neglect to find the infection would be an actionable misdiagnosis in Maryland and everywhere else. For one thing, infection is always a danger after surgery. Doctors should diligently monitory the patient and administer regular tests to rule out infection when the patient’s symptom may be pointing in that direction, especially in light of the ever-present danger of sepsis and the death of patient.

Source: The Louisiana Record, "West Jefferson Medical Center sued for medical malpractice over alleged sepsis death", Kyle Barnett, July 3, 2014

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