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Medical Malpractice

Man dies after medical staff leaves him alone in hospital room

| Aug 9, 2012 | Medical Malpractice

Dealing with the loss of a family member is especially difficult if it is unexpected. Medical professionals in Texas, as well as hospitals, can be held liable for negligent acts. A man being treated in a hospital for an asthma attack died from brain and other injuries after the hospital’s staff left him alone in an emergency room.

The man suffered an asthma attack in his home and was taken to a local hospital in 2002. Hospital staff gave him a nebulizer treatment and left him alone in his room because they thought he was recovering. By the time staff members returned half an hour later, his condition had worsened and he had lapsed into a coma. Sadly, the man died four years later. About 10 years after the man’s fateful hospital visit, a court awarded his family $7 million for their medical malpractice and wrongful death suits.

Family members never expected that an asthma attack could lead to the death of their loved one. Witnesses claimed that the medical staff failed to uncover the fact that the man had been admitted to the hospital for asthma attacks before. The staff also may have failed to administer a “Peak Expiratory Flow Rate,” which determines the severity of the blockage by measuring how much air is exhaled in one breath.

Medical professionals are expected to exercise a reasonable amount of skill and care when administering treatment to a patient. If a doctor or medical professional is negligent in diagnosis or treatment and that negligence results in harm to a patient, they can be liable for medical malpractice. A medical malpractice case can be brought against doctors, hospitals or agencies that operate hospital facilities.

It is important to determine who is at fault for the injuries to the patient. Hospitals can be held liable for various negligent acts including failure to perform proper medical tests and failure to protect patients from harm. If a hospital employee’s malpractice is the cause of the injury — as the court determined in the above case — the hospital could be held liable if the employee was acting within the scope of employment.

Victims of medical malpractice in Texas and their family members can be assured that those responsible for the injuries may be held liable for their negligence.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “Family of man left alone in ER after asthma attack wins $7M judgment,” Lisa Donovan, Aug. 1, 2012

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