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Lawsuits claims neglect, misdiagnosis killed surgical patient

Middlesex County emergency rooms can be packed with people who all require immediate attention. The pressure to act quickly can cause doctors to make mistakes, like a misdiagnosis that leads to a patient's worsened condition. Physicians and other caregivers cannot ignore professional standards because they're busy.

A 51-year-old man had a knee replacement operation in April 2012. The patient was released from the hospital two days following surgery. Nursing care and physical therapy for the recovering patient was provided by home-health care workers. The medical professionals recently were named with the hospital and other service providers in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The claim, filed by the patient's widow, alleges the home-care staff and several other defendants ignored post-surgical complications. Less than a week after the surgery, the patient developed symptoms of an infection. Signs of serious problems reportedly were dismissed by the home-care staff and an orthopedic surgeons' group.

Pain drove the patient back to the hospital's emergency room 10 days after the operation. The lawsuit claims ER doctors never looked at the patient's wound, didn't notice over-hydration, misdiagnosed the infection and underrated the man's condition. The patient died at the hospital the next day due to pulmonary edema, fluid accumulation and a post-surgical infection.

A medical examiner concluded the patient suffered heart failure. Court papers claim an electrocardiogram, taken just before the patient died, showed no signs of the condition. The man weighed 18 pounds more at death than when he checked in to the hospital the previous day.

The lawsuit says the doctors, hospital and other providers failure to recognize the seriousness of the condition was negligent.

Medical mistakes can place Allegheny County patients' lives at risk. A misdiagnosis allows time for a serious, treatable problem to become an unstoppable, life-threatening condition. Families of loved ones who die needlessly due to negligence may recover financial and personal losses through civil courts.

Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, "Family of Clyde Park man who died after knee surgery sues Bozeman Deaconess" Whitney Bermes, Feb. 11, 2014

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