On March 3, 2014, a Massachusetts medical malpractice jury awarded $2.925 million to the mother of a 23-year-old man who died as a result of alleged misdiagnosis in a hospital emergency room. The verdict was reached after five days of trial. The medical malpractice defendant was the emergency room physician who examined the man in the hospital emergency room on August 14, 2006.
The man was experiencing a cough, fever, and chest pains when he arrived in the emergency room. The emergency room physician who treated the man did not order an EKG, which the medical malpractice plaintiff alleged would have accurately diagnosed her son’s serious medical condition. Instead, the emergency room physician diagnosed the man as having bronchitis (a lung infection) after a five-minute evaluation and sent the man home with antibiotics and pain medication. By 6 a.m. the next morning, the man was found dead in his bed.
An autopsy on the man’s body determined that he died as a result of myocarditis.
The jury’s verdict will be increased to $4.8 million once interest is added to the verdict. The medical malpractice defendant no longer works in the hospital where the alleged medical negligence occurred; he is licensed as a physician and surgeon in California where he reportedly works for a hospital in Chico, California.
What Is Myocarditis?
Myocarditis is an uncommon disorder that is usually caused by viral, bacterial, or fungal infections that reach the heart. Other causes of myocarditis may include allergic reactions to certain medications or toxins (alcohol, cocaine, certain chemotherapy drugs, heavy metals, and catecholamines), exposure to certain chemicals, and certain diseases that cause inflammation throughout the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis or sarcoidosis (a disease in which inflammation occurs in the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, eyes, skin, or other tissues).
Medical testing for myocarditis may include blood cultures to test for infection, blood tests for antibodies against the heart muscle and the body itself, chest x-ray, electrocardiogram (EKG), biopsy of the heart muscle (referred to as endomyocardial biopsy), red blood cell count (CBC), ultrasound of the heart (called an echocardiogram), and white blood cell count.
While there may be no symptoms of myocarditis, symptoms may be similar to the flu and may include abnormal heartbeat; chest pain that may resemble a heart attack; fatigue; fever and other signs of infection including headache, muscle aches, sore throat, diarrhea, or rashes; joint pain or swelling; leg swelling; and, shortness of breath. Treatment may include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce swelling, diuretics to remove excess water from the body, low-salt diet, and reduced activity, depending on the severity of the condition.
If you may have been injured due to medical malpractice in Massachusetts or in another state in the U.S., you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Massachusetts medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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