A 21-year-old college student knew he was very ill. He went to the hospital with flu-like symptoms and told medical professionals he "felt like he was dying." Nevertheless, the medical staff discharged the young man without treatment.
Later that day, he was rushed back to the hospital. He died within hours of his second visit.
What caused this young and otherwise healthy young man to die so quickly? According to the results of lab tests conducted after his second visit, he was suffering from two serious and potentially fatal diseases: sepsis and meningitis. Had he been correctly diagnosed on his first visit, he very likely would not have died.
College student's family pursues medical malpractice claim
Following an inquest, the hospital accepted liability and admitted breaching a duty of care, which cleared the way for the young man's family to move forward with a medical malpractice claim. In order to find success, medical malpractice claims in these types of cases generally need to establish the following:
- Duty: First, the family must establish that the medical professionals and hospital owed a duty to care for the young man. Since he was a patient under their care, this should not be a hurdle to the case.
- Breach: Next, the family will need to show the medical staff did not meet this duty; in other words, that the patient did not receive the quality of care expected of medical professionals and hospitals in this situation.
- Causation: This step will require a showing that the failure to provide quality care resulted in the injury.
- Damage: And finally, that there was an injury. This could be shown through the development of further illness, the need for additional treatments or the death of the patient.
Medical malpractice cases often require the use of expert testimony. Other medical professionals in similar practices will testify as to the accepted standard of care and apply it to this patient in this situation.
This process is similar for the majority of victims of medical misdiagnosis. If successful, the claim can lead to monetary awards to help the family with their healing process.