When doctors and surgeons fail to properly diagnose their patients, they can be held accountable for this kind of negligence in a civil court. This is especially true when their medical negligence directly leads to the patient’s untimely death. At The Becker Law Firm, our attorney Romney Cullers recently represented the family of a 56-year-old man who died after discharge from the emergency room – securing over $3.75 million in damages for their losses.
Following a minor car accident in a grocery store parking lot, the now-deceased victim visited the emergency room to seek care for his upper back pain. Despite writhing in pain in front of multiple emergency room attendants and physicians, the primary physician did not fully investigate the source of this injury, and diagnosed him with a mild case of “lower back pain” instead. The patient returned home with only pain medication and muscle relaxants for his condition.
By the next morning, the victim’s wife found him unconscious and unresponsive. The medical examiner determined that the man had died from a free rupture of an undiagnosed thoracic dissection. In other words, his aorta had been tearing itself apart while he was in the emergency room – and despite presenting with clear symptoms for this condition, the doctor still provided an incorrect diagnosis.
Compounding Negligence with Fraud
Physicians who fail to recognize and diagnose fatal conditions can be held responsible for this failure. Unfortunately, many negligent physicians realize this is the case, and may try to take illegal and unethical actions to protect their reputations.
Upon hearing about his patient’s death three days later, the emergency room doctor committed fraud in just such an attempt to protect himself. Accessing the patient’s electronic medical record, he added in a false statement about how the patient had refused all diagnostic testing and left the hospital early, against his professional advice.
Fortunately, our firm’s audit of the medical record showed that there was a clear data trail left in the hospital’s computer system when he committed this wrongful action. By examining the data closely, Attorney Cullers and his team found the exact time and date that the doctor had falsified the medical record.