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Sommers Schwartz attorney Kenneth Watkins secured a medical malpractice settlement for the estate of a previously healthy 28-year-old man who died six hours after the defendants incorrectly diagnosed him with gastroenteritis.
The decedent arrived at the defendant hospital’s emergency care facility complaining of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, coughing, and a headache. He had no fever or sore throat but complained of some chest pain. Although he had an elevated heart rate of 148 bpm and was clearly ill, no tests were performed, and no blood work was ordered – not even a nasal swab to determine whether he had the flu. Instead, the patient was given gastroenteritis medication and the defendant physician assistant discharged him without seeking approval from a supervising physician.
After he was sent home, the decedent fell while attempting to walk, and his family took him to another hospital. There, the medical staff documented that his condition had worsened; he was vomiting, pale and displayed blue lips and blue nails, complained of numbness and hot and cold flashes, felt faint, and experienced difficulty breathing. He then passed out, and it took several nurses to lift him and get him on a stretcher.
The decedent suffered a seizure, and his heart rate slowed. Blood sugar was noted to be zero. He then went into complete cardiac arrest, and CPR was performed to no avail. He was pronounced dead a short time later.
The wrongful death lawsuit claimed that, based on the decedent’s symptoms, the defendant physician assistant violated the applicable standard of care by not performing the minimally required workup, including blood work and an electrocardiogram, and failed to administer intravenous fluids. The estate argued that had the defendants provided the decedent with basic care, he would have likely survived.
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