A patient’s symptoms may not always be easy to diagnose, but doctors are trained to determine all of the different factors that could be causing a patient’s symptoms in order to properly rule out any life-threatening diseases or illnesses. If a doctor fails to consider all of the different factors that could be affecting one’s health, he or she risks misdiagnosing the patient. In these cases, a misdiagnosis could result in death.
Family members who have lost a loved one to an illness that was not properly diagnosed by a doctor often choose to work with an attorney so that they may be compensated for their undue hardship. However, not all cases of misdiagnosis lead to justice.
Last month, the Fifth District Appellate Court of Illinois upheld a previous ruling in favor of a doctor who had been blamed for the wrongful death of a 17-year-old boy. The lawsuit had been filed by the boy’s mother after she said that her son’s doctor had failed to diagnose and treat the boy for a bacterial infection. Her son later died from the infection.
According to the lawsuit, the mother took her son to the emergency room at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville. The boy was vomiting and he had a high fever and rash. After being monitored by the doctor for several hours, the boy died. It was later discovered that the boy had died from an infection that he had never been diagnosed with.
During the trial, an expert testified that the doctor should have been able to identify that the boy had the infection. The expert said that because the doctor failed to give the boy intravenous fluids and antibiotics for the infection, the boy did not get the treatment he needed, which eventually caused his death. However, the expert also acknowledged that the infection had progressed rapidly, and even though he was not diagnosed properly, the boy most likely would not have survived had he received the proper treatment.
The jury ruled in favor of the Illinois doctor stating that the boy received adequate care.
Losing a loved one to cancer, an infection or other type of illness is difficult for any family. However, knowing that a doctor’s misdiagnosis prevented a loved one from receiving the medical attention he or she needed in order to live can be even more heartbreaking and painful.
Source: The Madison St. Clair Record, “Appellate court upholds defense verdict in St. Clair Co. wrongful death suit,” Christina Stueve, Sept. 27, 2011