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Failure to diagnose infection causes death of young boy

In a recent tragedy, a simple cut on a 12-year-old boy's arm in the school gym ended his life prematurely. The reason? Misdiagnosis of the boy's symptoms.

The day after the child cut his arm diving for a ball in the gym at his school in New York, he was taken to his pediatrician, and then the emergency room, with symptoms of vomiting, fever and pain in his leg. There, the doctors incorrectly diagnosed his symptoms as an upset stomach and dehydration. He was sent home and told to take fluids and Tylenol. Three days later, he died of septic shock.

The ER doctors ignored information from the child's family doctor, suspicious vital signs, and lab results that could have pointed to an infection. No one noticed that bacteria must have entered the boy's bloodstream from the cut on his arm, and an invasive infection was raging through his body.

Holding doctors accountable for misdiagnosis

When egregious medical errors happen at the expense of one's health and well being, and even life itself, compensation - while it cannot reverse the error - may be available. Physicians and other medical professionals who ignore symptoms, fail to review a patient's chart, or fail to communicate with one another can be held liable for medical malpractice when their mistakes cause injury or death.

In Michigan, failure to follow standard and proper procedure leading to medical mistakes that cause serious or permanent injury, or even death, is the foundation of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Learn more about malpractice lawsuits and emergency room errors by visiting our page on emergency room errors.

Source: The New York Times, "An Infection, Unnoticed, Turns Unstoppable," Jim Dwyer, July 11, 2012

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