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Doctors Fail to Diagnose Pulmonary Embolism

Two doctors’ failure to diagnose pulmonary embolism as the potential cause of the patient’s symptoms resulted in her death 12 hours after discharge from the hospital. Only 20 years old, the patient left a minor son who was without other means of support. A pulmonary medicine expert explained to the court the absolute necessity for physicians to entertain all reasonably possible causes of a person’s symptoms. In this case, the doctors went through four diagnoses–none of them the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism–before discharging the young lady from their care. When the clot broke loose 12 hours later, it went straight to her lungs and caused her death. Even though a Medical Review Panel required by state statutes found that the doctors were negligent, the case was only resolved after the court, too, found the physicians at fault and awarded compensatory damages.