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Man dies after pneumonia goes untreated by medical professionals

Individuals die from a variety of health complications every day in Illinois and throughout the entire U.S. However, no one should have to die as a result of a misdiagnosis made by a doctor who failed to take enough time to fully analyze one’s symptoms.

After one family lost a loved one who suffered from pneumonia while serving time in a Wisconsin jail, the family filed a lawsuit claiming that the inmate did not receive the proper medical attention he needed, which could have saved his life. He was only 27 years old.

This month, the family was awarded $1.3 million in the medical negligence case. Although no amount of money can ever replace the life of a loved one, the inmate’s death has prompted the facility to make improvements to the quality of care that is provided by the facility’s medical staff to current inmates.

According the family’s lawsuit, the inmate was diagnosed with a cold by the facility’s medical staff, despite complaints from the inmate and his family who suspected that his medical condition was more serious. A staff nurse argued that she had done everything necessary to provide care to the inmate, even when his condition got worse.

The lawsuit claims that the inmate was refused the care he needed because of inadequate medical staff and resources available at the prison; doctors’ visits were infrequent, state inspections were forgotten and patient contacts were unsatisfactory. The attending physician for the jail lived more than 300 miles away in Illinois, court documents say, and was only on site for about three hours a week.

Since the inmate’s wrongful death, the jail has since increased its staffing to include available RNs at least 20 hours a day, as well as a nurse practitioner who visits 16 hours a week. The facility has also expanded its mental health offerings in the wake of this case.

Although the facility did take action to improve the quality of care that was being provided to inmates after the 27-year-old’s death in 2008, this case is another example of the serious health complications patients can suffer when doctors and nurses overlook patients’ symptoms.

Source: Post-Crescent, “Post-Crescent Watchdog Followup: $1.3M settlement reached in lawsuit over death of Appleton man,” Jim Collar, Jan. 19, 2012


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