Generally, hospitals, doctors and nurses offer ailing and injured patients another opportunity to live life without illness and injury. However, there are times when healthcare professionals may make serious medical mistakes or delay giving timely and necessary life-saving treatment. Failure to diagnose a health problem in a reasonable fashion can result in serious harm and even death for patients.
Loss of a patient due to the negligence of a healthcare professional is an unfathomable, devastating, life- altering event for the surviving family members. However, holding a negligent doctor or hospital responsible may provide a family closure and offer some sense of justice. In fact, Pennsylvania residents will find it interesting to learn that in a recent medical malpractice case, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld an award of nearly $14.2 million against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Shadyside.
The award stems from a 2003 incident wherein a 24-year-old patient who was diagnosed as having a potential brain tumor or abscess died. According to the lawsuit, the man was scheduled to have surgery; however, the night before his surgery, the man’s condition deteriorated to the point that he was put on life support. The man underwent a couple of emergency procedures, but did not survive. Apparently, on the day of surgery, a nurse at UPMC noticed that the 24-year-old man’s left pupil was indicative of increasing pressure on the brain.
At that point, if the man’s condition was not treated on an emergency basis, it was likely to lead to his untimely death, which is precisely what occurred in this case. The nurse alleged that she contacted the surgeon. However, despite the severity of the 24-year-old man’s condition, the surgeon failed to order emergency treatment or even report to the hospital. Furthermore, the nurse did not seek immediate critical care for the man.
This medical malpractice award was the largest Allegheny County has seen in the last decade.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Court upholds $14.2 million judgment against UPMC,” Robert Zullo, Nov. 4, 2013