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Settlement reached in death of young pediatrician

The parents of a young pediatrician who died nearly three years ago of a brain hemorrhage have settled a malpractice suit against the medical center that she worked for. The settlement came just a few days after the trial began.

The terms of the settlement weren't disclosed. However, based on the potentially long and lucrative career that was cut short, the medical center could have paid tens of millions of dollars if the decision had been left to the jury. That jury had already heard the plaintiffs' attorney accuse a doctor of changing her story about what happened.

In May 2013, the 26-year-old resident, who had recently graduated from medical school, was admitted to the facility after experiencing headaches and bruising. She had also reportedly been having problems flipping pages and typing.

The plaintiffs argued that during the days that she spent as a patient there, the staff was considering various reasons for her symptoms, including an infection. However, the suit charged, they did not recognize that she had suffered a stroke despite the fact that she was displaying symptoms of one. Further, although her blood tests reportedly indicated a blood clot, no one followed up on that.

Even when they recognized the severity of the situation and ordered emergency scans, those reportedly took hours. In the end, argued the plaintiffs, doctors and other medical personnel did not properly diagnose their daughter's condition until it was too late.

When a doctor who works with fellow medical professionals every day still isn't properly diagnosed in time to say her life, it's not hard to believe that it can and does happen to people from all walks of life. While diagnosing a condition can be a complicated and imperfect process, there are still recognized steps for making a diagnosis and a duty of care that's owed to patients. Doctors and other medical professionals who fail in those areas can and should be held legally responsible.

Source: The Scranton Times Tribune, "Parties reach settlement in medical malpractice suit," James Halpin, March 07, 2016

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