When patients walk into a Pittsburgh hospital – just like other hospitals around the country – they trust that their doctors will be able to make the correct diagnosis for their injuries. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. In some cases, the symptoms have not yet presented themselves, rendering a correct diagnosis impossible. In other cases, however, doctors simply fail to act upon an important sign or symptom. In those cases, the doctor could be guilty of a failure to diagnose, an act of negligence that can cause serious harm to patients.
Take, for instance, a man who recently took his doctor to court after he received an injury at work. The man’s chest was injured after he became pinned between two large containers. The doctor examined the man, then sent him home.
The doctor told the patient to call him if the condition worsened. It did, so the man called twice over the next few days. The doctor told him to return to see him in five days.
The man did, but as he was being prepared for a CT scan, the nurse noticed that the man appeared to be having a heart attack. The nurse put the man into a wheelchair and sent him to the adjacent emergency room. He soon went into full cardiac arrest.
The man survived the heart attack, but he had to a medical device surgically implanted in his chest to regulate his heartbeat. The device prevents him from working on heavy machinery, which was his former trade.
The man sued his doctor for a failure to diagnose, stating that the doctor should have noticed the man was having serious problems with his heart and should have sent him to the ER several days sooner. Ultimately, the jury agreed with man, assigning the doctor 66 percent liability for the man’s injuries, medical bills and lost wages. The man himself shouldered the other 34 percent liability, as the jury felt he could have gone to the ER himself, even if the doctor hadn’t told him to.
In the end, the jury ruled that the damages in the case equaled approximately $1.12 million, of which the man will receive 66 percent, or $735,000.
The Wichita Eagle, “Sedgwick County jury finds doctor most at fault in work-injury malpractice case” Tim Potter, Sep. 26, 2013