Death Leads to $850 Thousand Settlement

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE SETTLEMENT REPORT – FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE AND TREAT PULMONARY EMBOLISM

A mother retained us after her daughter, young woman, unexpectedly died in the hospital.

The young woman had been admitted to the hospital after having lost consciousness briefly at work. Although she exhibited a number of signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism, her physicians pursued an incorrect diagnostic pathway that led them to diagnose the woman as suffering from a benign fainting disorder. Although at least one physician considered the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism and suggested screening tests, no appropriate tests were ordered or performed. Even after the young woman experienced a series of life threatening episodes while at the hospital, she was denied potentially life saving tests and procedures. Shortly before her planned discharge from the hospital, the young woman died.

We were able to successfully resolve the case by producing strong evidence of liability, undercutting the claims of the defendant physicians, and by producing persuasive evidence of our client’s damages. Prior to filing suit, we were fortunate to locate and retain a physician who was a leading authority in pulmonary embolism, deep venous thrombosis and blood coagulation disorders. Having a respected expert from a prestigious university on our side from the beginning of the case communicated the strength of our case to the defendants’ lawyers and insurers. The defendants contended that the decedent’s vague symptoms raised only a remote possibility of pulmonary embolism such that the standard of medical care did not require further screening for the condition. They also contended that due to her advanced condition and “massive pulmonary embolism,” she would have died regardless of any interventions that her physicians could have made. After filing suit, one of the decedent’s physicians performed poorly in his deposition and was unable to effectively defend these claims. As a result, the strength our negligence claims became more evident. We were also able to effectively substantiate some of the plaintiff’s losses through written communications between the decedent and her mother. Because physicians generally have a high success rate in the trial of medical malpractice claims, powerful evidence of liability and damages is usually necessary to obtain a settlement or to prevail at trial.

With the assistance of a compassionate and highly professional mediator, we were able to secure a settlement of $850,000 for our client. By settling, our client was able to conclude the case in a dignified manner and was pleased to avoid the emotional challenges that she would have experienced if she had gone through with a trial.