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Composer's death claimed due to doctor's failure to diagnose

The misdiagnosis of a patient's condition is a major theme that is raised in medical malpractice cases nationwide, including in Maryland. In another state, a recent lawsuit filing involving the death of well-known music composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch raises the issue against a hospital and a treating physician. The suit was filed by the composer's surviving widow, and it alleges that the treating doctor was responsible for a failure to diagnose properly the decedent's medical condition, leading to his untimely death.

The complaint alleges that Hamlisch had a kidney transplant in Feb. 2012 and that the defendant doctor had the responsibility of caring for him afterwards. It is alleged that the decedent's wife advised the doctor several times in the summer of 2012 that the patient was gravely ill. In fact, one doctor had Hamlisch hospitalized due to his appearance.

However, at the end of July 2012, the defendant doctor returned from vacation and ordered Hamlisch be immediately discharged from the defendant New York hospital. He advised the patient that it was perfectly safe for him to make a nearly six hour flight to Los Angeles. He repeatedly advised the patient and his wife that he was suffering only from back pain and anxiety.

Hamlisch took the flight, and upon arriving on the West Coast, he immediately fell into a coma and died five days later, according to the suit. The plaintiff alleges that the doctor ignored several warning signs, and failed to examine the defendant, when he told him it was perfectly safe to travel across country. The alleged failure to diagnose is claimed to have directly contributed to the Hamlisch's death. In Maryland and all other jurisdictions, the verdict on whether the doctor was negligent and whether that negligence caused the patient's death is typically in the hands of a jury, unless the parties can settle the matter prior to that point.

Source:, "Marvin Hamlisch's Widow, Terre Blair, Files Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Over Composer's Death", Ian Holubiak, Oct. 9, 2014

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