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Last week, our blog examined a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a 26-year-old woman against a Pennsylvania-based health facility alleging that negligent medical care contributed to her untimely death from a blood clot in her brain.
The young woman — we called her Jennifer — graduated from The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton in May 2013 and was poised to begin her residency in pediatrics just a few months later.
Jennifer came to the emergency room on the night of Sunday, May 26, complaining of both bruising easily and severe headaches that she had been unable to treat effectively with over-the-counter medications. At this time, she was diagnosed with a platelet condition and admitted to the hospital, where she was given both pain medication and Prednisone to treat her condition.
However, at no time from May 26 to May 28 was either a neurologist consulted or some type of simple head imaging ordered.
According to the lawsuit, Jennifer was finally seen by a staff member from neurology services in the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 28, at which time a CT scan of her head was ordered. Shockingly, it was only discovered at this time by staff members that Jennifer had been taking a form of contraceptive that presented an elevated risk of blood clotting.
The results from the CT scan revealed that she was not suffering from a platelet condition, but rather that she was showing signs consistent with a blood clot.
Hospital staff next proceeded to order an MRI to get a clearer picture of the potential blood clot in her brain. However, Jennifer’s condition deteriorated rapidly, such that she was unable to communicate and had to be sedated. In fact, her pain and discomfort grew to such proportions that the MRI had to be discontinued prematurely.
Despite this shortened timeframe, the MRI confirmed that there was indeed a blood clot in Jennifer’s brain and she was placed in the intensive care unit, where efforts were undertaken to relieve pressure on her brain.
When these efforts proved ineffective, arrangements were made to transport Jennifer to another facility better equipped to handle the situation. However, it was too late by the time she arrived and physicians there indicated that she had suffered permanent brain damage.
Sadly, Jennifer fell into a coma and was placed on life support for a short time before it was determined that she had no chance to make a meaningful recovery. Her cause of death was listed as a blood clot in the brain that caused it to both swell and move out of position.
The wrongful death lawsuit, which is seeking unspecified damages, attributes this tragedy to everything from the failure to take a proper medical history and the failure to order the necessary testing to multiple misdiagnoses and inadequate staffing.
“Due to this inordinate delay — between late Sunday night and early Tuesday morning when the first head imaging study finally was ordered and performed — her condition went from one that was easily and completely correctable to a full-blown, life-threatening medical emergency.”
Stay tuned for updates on this truly heartrending case …
Consider contacting an experienced attorney to learn more about your options if you believe that medical malpractice — misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis — was directly responsible for the loss of a loved one.
Source: The Times-Leader, “Malpractice suit filed in young doctor’s death,” Jerry Lynott, Jan. 8, 2014