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$2.5 million settlement in swollen toe case

Massachusetts residents might be interested in learning about a medical malpractice suit involving a 33-year-old man who went to an emergency room in Hawaii on Jan. 4, 2011, to receive treatment for swelling between his toes on his left foot. According to the lawsuit, the man was prescribed an antibiotic. When he returned to the hospital on the following day complaining of hip and thigh pains as well as a headache and red eyes with a yellowish crust, the staff gave him painkillers and told him to continue taking the antibiotic.

According to the lawsuit, the man returned to the clinic several more times complaining of various ailments, including severe headaches, vomiting, leg pain and a rash. On Jan. 12, the staff at the emergency room determined that he was suffering from liver and renal failure. He was taken to Queen's Medical Center where he died on Feb. 20. The lawsuit, which was filed in August 2012, alleges that his death was caused by multi-organ failure due to an antibiotic allergy. An attorney for the family stated that the facility failed to do the proper bloodwork, which, if it was performed, might have indicated that the man was allergic.

According to attorneys for the man's family, a $2.5 million settlement was reached; however, it is awaiting final approval by the U.S. Department of Justice. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office in Hawaii stated that the settlement had not been finalized or formalized yet.

The staff in the emergency room failed to check for allergies and prescribed a medication that caused irreparable damage to the man's liver and kidneys. Because they are often busy, negligence can occur in medical facilities, including anesthesia error, which could cause fatal injuries to patients. Families of those affected could choose to pursue legal recourse in such cases.

Source: Insurance Journal, "$2.5M Settlement In Hawaii Malpractice Began With a Toe", November 15, 2013

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