Failure to Identify Seriousness of Condition Leads to Patient Death

Many medical errors involve proactive mistakes from medical professionals--providing too much medication, applying too much force during an operation, and similar mistakes.  However, malpractice can also take the form of omissions, when doctors fail to do something that a reasonable doctor would have done.  Often that involves failing to notice that a patient has a life-threatening problem.  If they do not treat it appropriately, serious injury or even death might result.

For example, Go Local recently shared the tragic <a href="" target= "_blank">story</a> of a man who died after medical professionals did not act properly in responding to his complaints.  According to the story the 56-year old went to the emergency room in severe abdominal pain.  He rated it a “ten on a scale to ten.”  Only a week before he had gallbladder surgery. 

However, instead of taking significant action, the medical team (a doctor and nurse practitioner) gave him some medication and sent him on his way.  A CT scan was not performed, and he was told not to do anything until a follow-up two days later.  Before the follow-up appointment the patient’s wife called the facility over concerns that his situation had deteriorated.  The doctor told her to try an over-the-counter drug but did not call for anything else to be done.

Sadly, the man would not make it to the follow up appointment.  The next night he was rushed to a different facility and died an hour after arriving.  Investigations into the matter afterward determined that he died of “postoperative peritonitis” connected to the gallbladder surgery.  Peritonitis is an inflammation of the tissue that lines the abdomen wall.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Eventually the man’s wife sought out legal help to determine if the medical team acted inappropriately and contributed to the tragedy.  After hearing the evidence in the case a medical review board determined that the doctor was negligent.  Specifically they found that he missed important details.  Considering the warning signs, the patient’s complaints, and the fact that surgery had just been performed, it was inappropriate for the man to be discharged when he was.  Had more thorough work been done to identify the problem and provide proper treatment then the death may have been prevented.

Missed Diagnosis

Unfortunately, missed diagnoses like the one in this case occur quite frequently.  There are countless cases of patients who seek out medical help for various problems only be given minimal care and turned away.  The seriousness of their condition is missed, and the problem is only uncovered when it is too late. 

When this occurs it may be an example of medical negligence.   Doctors cannot be expected to catch everything all the time.  However, they can be expected to reasonably identify problems when signs, symptoms, and medical history counsel toward possible complications.  If they miss those signs and a patient suffers as a result, then they may be required to provide compensation for the harm caused. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a similar type of malpractice, call our lawyers at 410-385-2225 to set up a free consultation or visit our website below.