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Family awarded $40M in medical malpractice case

Like emergency rooms across the country, those here in Louisiana are busy places. This means that the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel often have limited time with patients and many duties to attend to all at the same time. Having said that, their first responsibility is always to the patient, and when they fail to meet the appropriate standard of care, and a death occurs, a medical malpractice claim could result.

This was the case after the death of a college student in 2013. She went to the emergency room complaining of breathing difficulties. Reports indicate that her symptoms alluded to a pulmonary embolism. Despite this fact, no tests were done, and she was sent home with a diagnosis of a virus. That was on Oct. 17, 2013.

On the morning of Oct. 18, 2017, she returned to the Detroit hospital's emergency room in an ambulance. She had developed blood clots and lost consciousness. She died that same day. To this day, the hospital has failed to take public responsibility for the woman's death and claims that the actions taken at the hospital the day before her death were reasonable. Her family, on the other hand, claimed that clear signs of a pulmonary embolism were present, and a jury agreed by awarding the family approximately $40 million in damages. 

Too many Louisiana families may be able to empathize with this one. No one expects a family member to die due to a medical mistake. Most people hold medical practitioners to a higher standard, and the law does as well. This is why medical malpractice laws exist. Even though these cases may take a significant amount of time, money and effort, they can help spur changes that prevent additional tragedies while providing grieving families with some sense of justice and potentially monetary restitution for their losses.

Source:, "Jury awards $40 million in Detroit Medical Center death", Sarah Rahal, Aug. 29, 2017

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