Massachusetts residents go to the hospital with the expectation of being properly treated. In order to obtain this effective care, a doctor must first accurately diagnose the condition from which the patient is suffering, and then check up on that diagnosis. If there is a doctor error in making the diagnosis or in following up with the condition, the result can be tragic. A recent jury verdict in a medical malpractice case shows just how damaging these mistakes can be for patients.

The man in that case sued the hospital and his doctor for failing to diagnose and treat a heart condition that eventually led to a stroke. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was initially diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, where a valve in the heart does not close tightly enough to prevent blood from flowing backward in the heart. The condition’s diagnosis was supported by an echocardiogram.

Yet, after the initial tests, the condition disappeared from the patient’s record and no follow-up tests were ordered. The doctor also failed to refer the patient to a cardiologist. Sometime later, a bacterial infection developed on the patient’s heart valve and resulted in a stroke. The man now has difficulty processing words, damage to his memory, and minimal use of the right side of his body. The jury returned a $6.4 million verdict in favor of the victim.

As this case illustrates, a doctor’s negligence can cause serious personal injury to a patient. A failure to diagnose or to treat an ailment can lead to a worsened medical condition or death. When this happens, the negligent doctor and hospital should be held accountable.

A victim can file a medical malpractice lawsuit and, by showing a duty, breach of that duty, and resultant damages, may recover compensation at trial or through a settlement. These awards can then be used to cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any costs needed for long-term care. Such a hospital negligence lawsuit may be the only way for a victim to obtain the compensation he so desperately needs to make life a little more comfortable.

Source: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Maryland Heights couple win $6.4 million medical malpractice verdict,” Walker Moskop, Jul. 9, 2013