Misdiagnosis Lawsuits, Including Wrongful Death Lawsuits Against Hospitals

What is a Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?

A misdiagnosis lawsuit is a general term that describes a claim brought against a health care provider (such as a nurse, doctor, or hospital) responsible for a misdiagnosis.  The term also describes a failure to diagnose and a delay in diagnosing.

Common misdiagnosis lawsuits we’ve handled over the years include failure to diagnose myocardial infarction (heart attack), misdiagnosis of intestinal perforation, failure to diagnose a ureteral leak following kidney transplant surgery, misdiagnosis of an unstable cervical spine fracture resulting in paralysis, failure to diagnose an enlarged heart of a child (resulting in her death), and delay in diagnosing Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal bacteria (a flesh-eating infection).

When is a Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Pursued as Wrongful Death?

Medical malpractice claims for a misdiagnosis, including wrongful death medical malpractice claims, can be pursued when there are sufficient grounds to prove that a physician or other medical professional provided patient care below the prevailing standard of care, and as a result of the misdiagnosis, the patient’s health is negatively affected—or the patient dies. Medical malpractice cases require testimony by medical experts, who determine whether medical care provided to the patient was below prevailing standards. In short, medical malpractice and misdiagnosis lawsuits can be pursued as wrongful death cases if the patient dies as a result of the malpractice or misdiagnosis.

Wrongful Death Settlements

In medical malpractice cases, damages are generally meant to cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and inconvenience.  Under Virginia law, if the medical malpractice causes the patient’s death, the patient’s family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking additional recovery for their sorrow, mental anguish, expected loss of income and assistance, and funeral or burial expenses.

Successful Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Pursued as a Wrongful Death Case

In 1999, Cuthbert Law helped win an historic wrongful death case here in Virginia. In this wrongful death action, the personal injury trial attorneys at Cuthbert Law were able to help the family of a 41-year-old Prince George school teacher who died as a result of medical malpractice at Southside Regional Medical Center (SRMC) in Petersburg, Virginia.

Trial Details

The lawsuit centered around a misdiagnosis by an emergency physician at SRMC.  The school teacher (Plaintiff) arrived at the Southside Regional emergency room with flu-like symptoms.  The emergency physician performed a physical exam but did not order any lab or diagnostic tests. The teacher was released a few hours later without first receiving any antibiotics.

Later that same day, the teacher returned to the hospital in worse condition. She was admitted to Southside Regional and died approximately ten hours later. An autopsy revealed that she died from an undiagnosed, treatable, bacterial infection.

A Petersburg Circuit Court jury deliberated for six hours after a four-day trial. The end result was a $2.045 million dollar verdict against the physician and his employer – the largest known medical malpractice verdict yet obtained in Petersburg Circuit Court.

Why this Misdiagnosis and Wrongful Death Case Was Significant

Charles H. Cuthbert Jr. and Margaret Cuthbert Broaddus of Cuthbert Law Offices led the way in an appellate fight that challenged the constitutionality of the state’s cap on medical malpractice damages, then only $1 million. This important appeal drew interest from multiple parties and numerous amicus briefs were filed. The Supreme Court of Virginia upheld the cap on appeal. Likely due to the publicity resulting from the appeal filed by Cuthbert Law Offices on behalf of the school teacher, within a few months the Virginia legislature increased the dollar amount of the cap.  Today, the cap is more than $2 million dollars.

If you need help navigating your own misdiagnosis, wrongful death, or medical malpractice case, schedule a free consultation with us today by submitting this form. You can also reach us by calling our Petersburg office at (804) 733-3100 or our Richmond office at (804) 643-3100.