A heart transplant is one of the most drastic of all medical procedures. The procedure is inherently risky, and even when the transplant is successful the patient is often left with lifelong side effects. Not surprisingly, a heart transplant is generally viewed as a procedure of last resort when less radical measures have proven ineffective. However, when the transplant is made necessary because of prior medical professional error, the patient may have the right to seek compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit. This is the allegation being made by a Maryland family after their son underwent a transplant in December of 2014.
The 16-year-old Talbot County boy and his parents have brought suit in Baltimore City Circuit Court against multiple defendants, including two Maryland hospitals and three doctors. They allege the defendants misdiagnosed the boy's heart condition and failed to treat it properly, causing the condition to get worse and ultimately making a transplant necessary.
According to the family's attorney, the initial misdiagnosis occurred just before the boy's 15th birthday, when a physician incorrectly diagnosed the boy's heart condition as walking pneumonia. Another doctor subsequently diagnosed heart failure, but continued to administer fluids, which allegedly caused further damage to the boy's heart. As a result of the worsened condition, the boy had to undergo a heart transplant. According to his lawyers, he will probably need additional heart transplants in the future.
According to the family's lawyers, doctors had sufficient evidence to diagnose heart failure initially. The lawyers also allege it is standard procedure to withhold fluids if heart failure is suspected.
Medical malpractice occurs when a physician fails to adhere to accepted standards of practice in their area of specialty. If the plaintiff is successful, damages can be recovered for increased medical expenses, loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering, among other losses.