Physicians in Montana and anywhere else will probably agree that making a correct diagnosis is an essential step in the treatment of any illness. Doctors are trained to take a history from the patient, conduct a physical examination, and review any necessary lab reports in order to determine what is causing a patient’s symptoms. Without knowing what is wrong it is difficult to prescribe an effective treatment.
A failure to diagnose a blood clot condition led to the tragic death of a young doctor in Pennsylvania recently. The 26-year-old woman went to a local hospital complaining of headaches that had lasted for ten days. Over the next two days her condition deteriorated quickly. She was transferred to another hospital, where she died three days after first seeking treatment. Tragically, the hospital in which she died was the one where she was soon to have begun her residency program in pediatric medicine.
The woman’s parents have sued the hospital, alleging medical malpractice. According to the lawsuit, the young doctor’s blood clot disorder should have been easy to diagnose and treat. But the lawsuit alleges the hospital staff failed to order a CT scan or other diagnostic tests, or consult a neurologist, until it was too late. The woman died from a stroke, massive hemorrhaging and brain damage.
When doctors make mistakes the results are often tragic. No doctor or hospital can guarantee a positive outcome in every case, but they do have a legal duty to meet the standard of care followed by other physicians in their specialty. A failure by medical professionals to meet this standard of care constitutes medical professional negligence. When a fatal medical error occurs due to negligence, the family of the patient has the right to recover compensation in a civil lawsuit.
Source: Scranton Times-Tribune, “Lawsuit: Negligence in death of young doctor,” Bob Kalinowski, Jan. 9, 2014