On April 20, 2016, a Florida medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of a hospital physician in a Florida medical negligence lawsuit that alleged that the failure to diagnose a woman’s infection was the cause of her death. The hospital where the woman had died had settled the Florida medical malpractice claims against it before trial.
The 52-year-old woman was admitted to a local hospital with a high white blood count, elevated heart rate, and paranoid psychosis, which the medical malpractice plaintiff alleged were due to an undiagnosed infection that required the defendant physician to order blood cultures and urine cultures and to treat the infection with appropriate antibiotics. The plaintiff alleged that had the defendant physician ordered the appropriate medical testing, the woman’s infection would have been timely diagnosed and treated, which would have avoided her wrongful death. The death certificate listed starvation ketosis as the cause of her death.
The defense argued that it was still unclear what caused the woman’s death. The plaintiff alleged that the undiagnosed and untreated infection caused her organ failure that led to her death. The plaintiff relied, in part, on a medical document coded by the defendant physician in which he checked a box that stated that the woman had pseudomonas septicemia, which the defense argued was a coding error made by the defendant physician and further argued that the woman’s symptoms were not consistent with an infection and that the defendant physician complied with the applicable standard of care when he did not order testing for infection.
The defense noted that the woman was seen by a cardiologist, a neurologist, and a psychiatrist, and that none of them suspected or diagnosed an infectious cause of her symptoms. The defense provided medical expert testimony that a high white blood count was consistent with psychosis, and noted that the woman experienced an increased heart rate when she underwent diagnostic testing or when she met with treating physicians, which was associated with her worsening psychosis and was inconsistent with an infectious process.
The plaintiff’s medical experts, however, testified that the defendant physician had breached the standard of care by failing to test the woman for infection, which they believed would have uncovered a treatable infection that was causing her symptoms.
The plaintiff’s Florida medical malpractice lawsuit sought $15 million in compensatory damages for pain and suffering and for loss of services. The plaintiff’s lawyer has filed post-trial motions, seeking to set aside the defense verdict and requesting a new trial.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injury (or worse) as a result of medical treatment in Florida or in another U.S. state, your injuries may be due to medical negligence and you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in Florida or in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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