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Family awarded $4M in wrongful death lawsuit against hospital

A family was awarded more than $4 million this week after a jury found an emergency room doctor responsible for a woman's death. The 43-year-old woman was rushed to the emergency room in full cardiopulmonary arrest early one winter morning after being found responsive in her home. She was dead less than 20 minutes after arriving in the emergency room.

This death appears to be a cause of a negligent doctor's failure to diagnose a treatable condition. The woman was taken by ambulance to an urgent care facility 11 days earlier where a doctor failed to detect her impending heart attack. A jury this week decided that the heart attack was detectable and the doctor's diagnosis of "chest pain of unclear cause and bronchitis" was negligent.

"Although a life was taken and can never be replaced this verdict will hopefully be used in the medical community to teach others and avoid a similar tragedy," the family's attorney said of the award. The family was awarded $1.5 million for the loss of care, assistance and protection by the deceased woman, $872,000 for lost wages, $300,000 for lost household services, and $1.5 million for emotional distress. The family also received $10,000 for funeral and medical expenses.

"This verdict demonstrates that our juries recognize and appreciate the value of a human life," said an attorney for the family.

The physician, who is listed as an emergency room specialist on the hospital's website, declined to comment on the verdict. A hospital spokesman also declined to comment on the jury award.

Source: The Intelligencer, "Millions Awarded in Medical Malpractice Suit," Tyler Reynard, Sept. 29, 2011

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