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Pennsylvania hospital must pay in negligence case

In 2014, a 47-year-old Pennsylvania man went to the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital's Heart and Vascular Institute on the referral of his doctor. The patient, whose family had a background of coronary artery disease, underwent a stress echocardiogram to screen for possible heart problems. The doctor in charge of the test reportedly failed to interpret the results correctly and the patient returned to his own physician with no heart condition detected.

Two years later, the patient began to experience alarming symptoms such as a persistent cough, shortness of breath and swelling of the leg. He returned to the hospital where he underwent another stress echocardiogram. This time, the test reportedly revealed that his heart had "profound abnormalities." The patient was hospitalized and treatment for his condition began immediately.

The patient was then transferred over to Philadelphia's Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. It was there that a different doctor discovered that the first echocardiogram had actually revealed abnormal results. Because the stress test had not been interpreted correctly, the patient went two years without a proper diagnosis and without much-needed medical care.

The patient, who now suffers total disability due to lack of treatment, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit naming the physician in charge of the first echocardiogram as well as Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. Recently, the jury returned a verdict supporting the victim's claims of negligence. It ruled that the physician was 80 percent responsible for the patient's condition and the hospital bore 20 percent of the responsibility.

The doctor died from cancer in 2016, but the victim reached an undisclosed settlement with the physician's estate. The hospital will pay the victim $672,803 for its share of the damages. This case is a good example of how the law handles medical malpractice and hospital negligence even when all parties are not available for litigation. If a doctor or facility that is no longer available has injured you, it is wise to seek an opinion about your solutions from a legal professional.

Source: The Citizens' Voice, "Jury awards $3.4M verdict in hospital negligence case," James Halpin, March 08, 2018

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