Re: [infoguys-list] obese patient
- In a message dated 6/10/2004 9:29:42 AM Eastern Standard Time,
My questions are:
(1) what will the problems associated with her weight?
(2) What is the attitude to be expected by suggesting a $7.50/hour
mother is worth ten million dollars? Five million? One million?
Before answering, I want to address the anticipated reaction most people have
to the notion that it is possible to put a value on another person's life.
It is explained to jurors that they must get past that, there is no "justice,"
they cannot "undo" the catastrophe, all they can do is offer "reasonable"
financial compensation according to the established rules that govern these things.
If it cost $1M to bring the lady back to life, I'd award it. If it cost
$100M, I'd award that too. That is not the point. Having said that, I'll take a
shot at the question.
I don't think you can divorce the economic evaluations from the fact
situation. By that, I mean that if this lady died due to some sort of negligent, but
understandable, situation (like the average car accident) there is no way I'd
agree that a $7.50/HR mother is worth $10M.
In this case, this lady presented with DVT that she suspected to be DVT based
upon the fact that a supervisory nurse recognized the symptoms - most readers
may not know how basic this diagnosis is. DVT causes pain, swelling,
localized redness and warmth -- obesity and hormonal changes associated with
pregnancy are risk factors.
We are talking basic EMT stuff here - deep vein thrombosis is rarely
misdiagnosed. Considering that this woman was obese and 1 month post partum, the
misdiagnosis is insane.
Misdiagnosis, no matter how incredibly stupid, is not the end of it. Suppose
a person with a bloody nose (just your normal bloody nose) was misdiagnosed
as having a sprained ankle, given an ace wrap and sent home. As ridiculous as
that misdiagnosis would be, if they died from the untreated bloody nose, a
person might reasonably argue that nobody could have anticipated that.
This is different. DVT is dangerous precisely because the clot causing the
problem can break loose and lodge in the lungs. That is THE problem with DVT.
Misdiagnosis and death as the predictable consequence is not the end of it
either. Suppose an otherwise healthy young man has a terrible head ache
misdiagnosed in the ER as being a migraine. They send him home where he dies of an
untreated intracranial bleed.
Given that it was a misdiagnosis, and death is a common result of an
untreated cerebral aneurism, it is entirely possible that nothing could have been done
about it anyway. That is not the case here.
DVT is readily treatable - this death could and should have been prevented.
My only questions would be whether the thrombosis was in the upper, or lower
leg, what was the diagnosis, and what was the treatment. If this was DVT of
the lower leg, they are rarely life threatening so it is plausible that the
treating physician might have felt that admission was unnecessary - especially if
she protested that she had babies at home who needed her.
If this was DVT of the upper leg, the inexcusable failure to treat an
obvious, life threatening situation would move me to agree to anything that the
Plaintiff could support. If there were mitigating factors, I'd say something in
excess of $1M and less than $3M.
Bill E. Branscum, Investigator
PO Box 10728
Naples, FL 34101
(239) 304-1640 Fax
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