On June 27, 2013, a Pennsylvania woman filed a medical malpractice case against a Pennsylvania hospital and four physicians in which she alleges that they were responsible for the wrongful death of her husband. The medical malpractice lawsuit seeks compensatory damages and punitive damages against the defendants for their alleged failure to appropriately treat the woman’s husband because he did not have health insurance. The man received only pain management and not the diagnostic testing and required surgery because of his non-insured status, according to the medical malpractice claim.
The Medical Malpractice Lawsuit’s Alleged Facts
According to the wife’s wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit, her husband had been to the defendant hospital on two prior occasions during 2010 for diverticulitis (small, bulging sacs of the inner lining of the intestine (diverticulosis) that become inflamed or infected, most often in the large intestine (colon)). On December 14, 2011, the man was admitted to the same hospital for recurring diverticulitis.
The man had an abdominal and pelvic CT scan following his admission to a non-monitored bed in the hospital, which was suspicious for a fistula (an abnormal connection between two parts inside of the body). He was provided antibiotics, IV fluids, and pain medication. A follow-up CT scan was ordered for December 15, 2011 but was canceled.
The hospital’s medical records indicated that one physician noted “if clinical condition deteriorates will need ex lap” and a second physician noted “given the frequency of [the man’s] episodes, he may benefit from elective resection if we can manage this bout with antibiotics.” The medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that had the December 15, 2011 CT scan been performed, it would have definitively shown the fistula that would have required life-saving surgery to have been timely performed. However, due to the lack of health insurance that was noted in the medical records, the medical malpractice plaintiff alleges that the defendants failed to perform the timely surgery that would have saved her husband’s life. Instead, the 40-year-old man died in the hospital early in the morning on December 16, 2011, due to acute peritonitis.
The medical malpractice defendants deny the allegations against them.
While the Pennsylvania medical malpractice case filed by the surviving wife alleges that medical negligence was the cause of her husband’s unnecessary death, if the medical malpractice plaintiff can establish that in addition to medical negligence that a reason for the failure to perform timely, life-saving surgery on her husband was his lack of health insurance coverage, then the defendant hospital may be held responsible not only for compensatory damages that are intended to compensate the plaintiff for her losses due to the medical negligence but also punitive damages, which are intended to punish the wrongdoer for egregious, intentional acts or omissions that shock the conscience or are of such character that an award of punitive damages will act as a financial disincentive for the wrongdoer and for others to engage in similar acts or omissions in the future.
If you, a family member, or a friend may have been injured due to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania or in another state in the U.S., you should promptly seek to consult with a Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may be willing to investigate whether the cause of your injuries and harms are due to medical negligence and to file a medical malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate.
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