In February 2017, a Santa Barbara, California hospital reportedly settled a California medical malpractice wrongful death claim by paying $600,000 to the family of a 43-year-old woman who died five years ago as a result of necrotizing fasciitis (better known as flesh eating bacteria) that the hospital’s emergency room failed to diagnose before discharging the woman.
The family alleged in their California medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit filed against the hospital that the emergency room physicians were negligent in discharging the patient on February 19, 2012 even though she had a large bruise on her upper chest, she was experiencing difficulties in breathing, she was nauseous, and her white blood cell count was high, indicating that she had an infection.
After arriving back home that night, the woman’s condition deteriorated. Early the next morning, the woman returned to the defendant hospital’s emergency room where she was diagnosed hours later with necrotizing fasciitis. The woman was admitted to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and heroic surgical attempts to save her life were ineffective because the infection had spread too much. Only thirty hours after she was first admitted to the hospital, the woman died as a result of necrotizing fasciitis.
As a result of this incident, the defendant hospital reportedly changed its procedures and protocols with regard to patients treated in its emergency department who have elevated white blood cell counts. Had the changes been implemented before the woman’s death, she would not have been discharged from the emergency room during her original visit and prompt diagnosis and treatment of her condition could have saved her life.
The woman’s ex-husband stated after the settlement was announced, “What the upshot of this lawsuit was, was to put in place measures to idiot-proof policy and procedure. There needed to be a system in place so that a doctor who ordered the test in the first place actually reads the test and does something about it.”
The $600,000 California medical malpractice settlement will result in each of the woman’s three teenaged children receiving incremental payments on their 23rd, 25th, 27th, and 29th birthdays that will total $132,702 each.
The defendant hospital states on its website: “Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is a 450-bed acute care teaching hospital and trauma center, the largest of its kind between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. The hospital was founded in 1888 by 50 women determined to provide a healthcare facility for the growing community of Santa Barbara. Now with annual admissions of more than 20,000 patients, nearly 73,000 emergency department visits, and 2,400 births, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is renowned for the breadth of its services.”
If you or a family member suffered serious injury as a result of emergency room misdiagnosis in California, you should promptly find a California medical malpractice attorney who may investigate your emergency room medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your family member in a medical malpractice case against the hospital and/or the emergency room physician, if appropriate.
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