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Patient dies shortly after emergency room visit

A jury had been contemplating whether to hold a hospital and attending physician liable for the death of a 68-year old man. Where this case was being held, the jury needed to determine whether the treatment of the deceased man was below professional standards of care involving emergency room physicians.

This was one of the circumstances where the treating physician may have been guilty of a failure to diagnose the seriousness of the patient's condition. Though the patient complained of shortness of breath, the emergency room doctor decided against admitting this individual. Two days later, the man died in an ambulance while on his way back to the medical center.

The attorney for the family of the deceased man had argued that this case was not about the money. Instead, it was about sending a message to the medical staff that their behavior was unacceptable.

Obviously, the attorney for the medical center had a different version of what occurred. She told the jury that the doctor's behavior met the standard of care required of every emergency room physician across the country.

It is the job of every medical malpractice attorney to argue the pros and cons of their case to jury members. It is a particularly difficult task in that the lay people on jurors are often asked to understand complex medical concepts and terminology. Attorneys good at their job can simplify this information for the jury members.

Hopefully Pittsburgh readers will understand that, whatever the outcome of this case happens to be, it is important to inquire into why a man died two days after visiting the emergency room. If we learn from the mistakes made, we can better assure that the same mistakes will not be made in one of our hospitals as well.

Source: The Hawk Eye, "Jurors ponder verdict in medical malpractice suit," by Any Hoffman, Oct. 2, 2012

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