Fatal medical negligence is not limited to complicated procedures. Like a surgical error, a routine procedure can also have deadly consequences. In one medical malpractice case, the University of Chicago paid $2.6 million to the family of a 61-year-old woman who died when her artery was damaged in a medical test. Her daughter, who filed the lawsuit, claimed that she literally bled to death.
The patient was diagnosed earlier with pulmonary hypertension, lupus and other ailments. She went for tests after having shortness of breath and failing to finish a stress test at a cardiology appointment. The day after that appointment, her doctor admitted her to the hospital for a cardiac catherization. The doctor threaded a tiny tube through a blood vessel in her groin to the heart to determine how it was functioning.
She called her daughter that night and said that the doctor nicked her artery. The puncture to her iliac artery caused blood to leak into her lower abdomen.
Her lawyers argued that the test may not have been necessary and that doctors should have immediately performed surgery or inserted to cover the hole. Instead, they tried to close the puncture artery and injected a clotting agent.
Her physician later testified that the patient had multiple ailments and an irregular heartbeat that required stabilization and admission into an intensive care unit. The catherization was needed to figure the best treatment course.
She was hospitalized for three days and was discharged even though her hospital chart showed that she was not doing well. Her son-in-law discovered her the next morning lying on the floor. After being transported to the hospital, doctors found that she was bleeding internally. They inserted a stent that stopped the bleeding, but it was too late. She died the next day without regaining consciousness.
A Cook County jury awarded her daughter $3 million from the University of Chicago Medical Center and the cardiologist who performed the test. Earlier this month, a post-trial agreement was reached, which reduced the award to $2.6 million and dropped the doctor from the settlement.