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Failure to diagnose heart failure leaves infants without mom

Medical malpractice suits in Pitt County as well as other parts of the state are not uncommon. Doctors and hospitals sometimes make a mistake which cause injury to their patient or at times even causes their death. In a recent medical malpractice case in McDowell County, a man sued several doctors and McDowell Hospital, claiming their failure to diagnose and properly treat his wife caused her death.

The man was seeking damages of $6.8 million in the medical malpractice suit. His wife gave birth to twin boys on February 9, 2008. Before she was discharged, she was diagnosed with pneumonia, for which she was prescribed medication and sent home. She thereafter made three separate trips to the emergency room, complaining of shortness of breath and nausea. Twice she was treated again for pneumonia, and on the third occasion the hospital relented to her request for hospitalization.

With the March 1 hospitalization, it was determined that she suffered from congestive heart failure. The next day she was transferred to Memorial Mission Hospital, and five days later, she suffered a stroke. Doctors operated to remove a ruptured blood vessel from her brain on March 20. The woman passed away three days later.

The husband thereafter sued a number of doctors and medical assistants, as well as McDowell Emergency Physicians and McDowell Hospital. The suit claimed they failed to appreciate the signs and symptoms of his wife's condition and failed to perform diagnostics to rule out causes other than pneumonia. After settling with several doctors before trial, the man was ultimately awarded $667,000. Though he was pleased the jury found fault with at least one doctor, he was disappointed in the amount of the recovery.

Medical malpractice claims are complicated, often involving a number of defendants, some of whom seek to deflect responsibility by arguing that any perceived fault lay with one or more of the other defendants.

Source: The McDowell News, "Jury awards $667,000 in medical malpractice suit," Richelle Bailey, Sept. 14, 2011

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