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Jury rules in family's favor in misdiagnosis case

Recently, in another state, a verdict was reached in a wrongful death case involving a misdiagnosis.

The case involved a man who died while he was sleeping in his home in August 2006. According to medical examiners, the man died of the heart ailment myocarditis.

Not long before his death, the man had visited the emergency room of a hospital in Massachusetts. The symptoms the man complained of at the emergency room were chest pains, a cough and fever. A doctor at the emergency room saw the man for five minutes, gave him a diagnosis of bronchitis, gave him prescriptions for painkillers and antibiotics and then had him go home.

The man's family alleged that the doctor's misdiagnosing of the man's condition as bronchitis when the man actually had myocarditis was the result of negligence. They claimed that the doctor failed to have an electrocardiogram performed on the man and that this test would have indicated that the man had myocarditis.

The man's family brought a lawsuit asserting that the man's death was in part the result of the doctor's actions. The jury in the case recently reached a verdict in favor of the man's family. In this verdict, the jury granted a $4.8 million monetary award to the man's family.

Losing a family member to a condition that a doctor failed to diagnose is something that one would hope that no family would have to face. Sadly though, this is something that some families here in Illinois experience. Several things play a role in whether a medical provider can be held liable in relation to such an incident, including whether the failure to diagnose the condition was caused by negligence by the provider and whether the diagnosis mistake contributed to the death. Medical malpractice attorneys can help families who have lost a family member after a diagnosis was missed determine if they have a wrongful death case.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Jury awards $4.8m to family in death of patient," Jacqueline Tempera, March 10, 2014

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