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Whenever you envision misdiagnoses, chances are you think of failures to diagnose heart attacks, cancer, strokes and other serious medical conditions. The last thing you think of is the failure by physicians to diagnose whether a patient is dead or alive. Such a determination, you would probably reason, is so simple that there is no logical way a physician could possibly make a mistake.
Sadly, a recent lawsuit filed by the parents of a young boy alleges that this is exactly what happened.
According to the complaint, the eight-year-old boy — we’ll call him Jaylen — has suffered from serious brain damage since he was only two-years-old and must use a ventilator to help him breath.
On February 18, 2012, Jaylen’s mother discovered him unresponsive in his bed and rushed him to the nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead after repeated resuscitation efforts. Soon thereafter, Jaylen’s parents told physicians that their son’s eyes were still fluttering open, but were informed that this was only a reaction to the medication he had been given earlier.
However, when other relatives began to arrive at the hospital, they also noticed that Jaylen’s eyes were still opening on their own.
According to the complaint, the parents then had to beg hospital staff for nearly five hours to run additional tests to determine if Jaylen was alive. When the staff finally relented and ran a cardiac ultrasound, they discovered to their astonishment that Jaylen’s heart was still beating.
“You don’t have to be a doctor to see that the heart was pumping blood,” said Jaylen’s father.
Understandably, Jaylen’s parents are concerned that the five hours he spent off his ventilator caused his condition to worsen. Indeed, his mother has indicated that he no longer smiles at family members or gives any indication that he can hear them.
While the lawsuit is seeking $200,000 in damages for severe emotional distress, there is perhaps no amount of money that can restore the faith of these parents in the medical community.
If you or a family member has been victimized by a misdiagnosis or hospital negligence, consider speaking with a legal professional to learn more about your rights and your options.
Source: KOAM-7, “Suit: Doctors mistakenly declared Chicago boy dead,” Associated Press, Oct. 20, 2012