Posted on July 03, 2019 in Medical Malpractice
In April 2009, an 18-month-old girl was brought to Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts by her father after she started vomiting and showing signs of dehydration. According to court documents, a radiologist performed a chest x-ray and determined that the patient likely had bronchiolitis v. atypical pneumonia. However, he failed to diagnose her enlarged heart, which resulted in a delay in treatment. Unfortunately, the delay in treating the myocarditis resulted in the patient going into cardiac arrest and suffering permanent brain damage. A jury awarded the patient, now 11 years old, $11.5 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
The patient’s legal team argued that if the radiologist had identified the enlarged heart, the standard of care would have involved an echocardiogram, which would have diagnosed the myocarditis. As a result, the physician would have proceeded with effective and timely treatment of the condition, thus, avoiding going into cardiac arrest and suffering a permanent neurological injury. According to a member of the girl’s legal team, because of the neurological injury, the 11-year-old functions similarly to a four-year-old in terms of her development.
Defendants Argue Standard of Care was Followed
Standard of care refers to the level of care that most physicians would provide if they were in a similar situation. In cases involving a delayed diagnosis, a health care provider would have met the standard of care if they diagnosed an illness within the same time frame as a reasonably competent doctor. It is up to the patient to prove that a physician breached the standard of care, and that the doctor’s negligence caused the patient harm in the form of pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, or loss of quality of life.
The defendants involved in the lawsuit claimed that they followed the standard of care based on the chest x-ray, and the treatment they provided. When the patient was initially brought to the hospital, she did not show any signs or symptoms that would suggest viral myocarditis. When her condition started to quickly deteriorate, she was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital. The defendants believe that the evidence will prove that the course of treatment provided did not contribute to the patient’s injuries. A spokesperson for Newton-Wellesley Hospital said that they are confident that the health care providers at the hospital provided the highest quality care based on the patient’s symptoms and x-ray results.