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Hospital settles emergency room malpractice case

A hospital in another state recently settled a medical malpractice claim for over $3.5 million. Because of the alleged emergency room errors, the patient involved has remained in a coma since 2015. The woman, who worked in the food service industry and had a husband and three children, is not expected to recover.

The woman's family alleged that emergency room staff did not take her symptoms seriously when she came for treatment. When she arrived, she was having a hard time breathing. She also had a documented record of problems with her kidneys and had been diagnosed with diabetes.

Emergency room staff gave her a painkiller and then sent her home. Shortly thereafter, she collapsed in the waiting room due to a severe diabetic reaction. Her family's lawsuit alleged that she had all the warning signs of being in immediate danger of a heart failure at the time she came in to the emergency room.

The suit also claimed the case had a socio-economic component to it. The woman was on a state-funded health insurance program. The suggestion, which the hospital denies, was that emergency personnel took shortcuts because the woman was not going to be a big money-maker for the hospital.

This was not the first time the emergency department of this hospital had run in to trouble. In another case, a man came to the hospital emergency room experiencing violent symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

However, the man also had pneumonia, and staff apparently did not ensure that the man was stable before discharging him. The man was found dead in the parking lot of the hospital several hours later.

While this incident happened in another state, it is important reminder to residents of Detroit and the surrounding Michigan communities that, no matter how stressed they are, emergency room staff have an obligation to examine and properly treat patients who come, at least to the point where they are stable.

If they fail to do so, whether on account of financial considerations, time crunches, or otherwise, victims may have legal options.

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Michael T. Ratton
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