When a 49-year-old man walked into a New York hospital’s emergency room in November, 2007, he complained to the emergency room physician of classic signs of an aortic aneurysm (an aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in an artery caused by certain medical conditions, genetic conditions, or trauma that damage the wall of the artery. The aneurysm can enlarge and rupture or dissect (split), causing life-threatening internal bleeding. Most aneurysms occur in the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body, known as the aorta. Ruptures and dissection of aneurysms are often fatal. Source)
The emergency room physician, who was board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology at the time of the man’s visit to the emergency room, diagnosed a muscle strain but failed to diagnose the man’ s aortic aneurysm. An x-ray taken at the time of the emergency room visit evidently showed the aneurysm. The man was sent home, where he was found dead two days later by his 10-year-old son. An autopsy found the ruptured aortic aneurysm.
The emergency room physician, who worked for an outside group that contracted with the hospital to provide emergency department services, argued during the medical malpractice trial that the man’s aortic aneurysm was not present at the time he examined the man in the hospital emergency room.
The New York medical malpractice trial lasted one month. On February 15, 2012, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the man’s family and against the hospital and the emergency room physician in the amount of $3.4 million. The hospital has stated its intention to appeal the verdict.
Hospital emergency rooms exist in our communities to provide emergency, acute care to patients who walk into the emergency room or arrive by ambulance. The timely and proper diagnosis of the medical conditions of the patients is critical in determining the proper care, whether that care is provided in the emergency room or as inpatient treatment in the hospital, or provided by another source outside of the emergency room at a later date (such as primary care physicians).
If the patient’s medical condition is life-threatening and acute but not properly diagnosed in the emergency room and the patient does not receive necessary medical treatment or not timely referred for appropriate medical treatment, the hospital and/or the emergency room staff may be held responsible for their failure to provide the required medical care if the patient suffers foreseeable injuries as a result of not receiving the proper medical care.
If negligent emergency room treatment may be the reason for your injuries or suffering, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Medical malpractice attorneys may be able to investigate your possible medical malpractice claim for you.
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