Thirty-year-old Darius Settles of Nashville, Tennessee died on the Fourth of July. While many Americans were celebrating, Settles was at home when he stopped breathing as his wife and father watched.
His family called 911 and began chest compressions until the EMT’s took over. They were unable to resuscitate Settles, and he died of cardiac arrest due to the coronavirus.
In the days leading up to his death, Settles said he wasn’t feeling well and complained of congestion. His father urged him to see a doctor. But because he didn’t have health insurance, he delayed seeking medical treatment.
On the Monday before his death, Settles was tested for the coronavirus. He learned the next day that the test was positive. The following day he went to TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center and came home with an inhaler and antibiotics to treat pneumonia. In fact, Settles had been sent home from the emergency room twice. He was told to come back if he felt worse. He did, and three days later he went back to the hospital, and they tested his blood oxygen levels, which are usually a first sign that a COVID patient is in trouble. The blood levels had dropped but not dramatically. So, they again sent him home.
Settles was the son and grandson of Pentecostal ministers, and at the time was the youngest person in Nashville to die of the coronavirus.
COVID-19 can cause a range of symptoms, from mild illness to pneumonia. Common symptoms are fever, cough, sore throat, and headaches. In severe cases, patients have difficulty breathing. Many of those with serious symptoms lose their lives to the virus.
Currently, there’s no specific treatment for those who are sick with coronavirus, and no vaccine to prevent the disease, although several drug companies have vaccines in the works. However, research shows that timely diagnosis and treatment are key to providing a better prognosis for patients with COVID-19. Likewise, the accuracy of early diagnosis is crucial.
In the case of Darius Settles, an early and accurate diagnosis of COVID-19 may have saved his life. The ER treatment of an inhaler and antibiotics was ineffective and the wrong course of action. His family may bring a medical malpractice negligence action against the hospital and the medical staff for their failure to properly diagnose and treat the coronavirus.
Medical malpractice happens when a hospital, physician, nurse, or other health care professional causes an injury to a patient through a negligent act or omission. Negligence might be caused by errors in diagnosis, treatment, or aftercare, as well as mistakes in lab testing. Failing to recognize or misdiagnosing is a serious mistake on the part of medical professionals.
A missed diagnosis or a delay in diagnosis often results from testing errors, failing to order proper tests, improper analysis, or inaccurate assessment of symptoms. These common medical errors occur most often when test results or imaging are not read properly or adverse results are not followed-up on.
Delayed diagnosis is the most common diagnostic error made by medical professionals. It is hard to underestimate the potential consequences of these mistakes. Failure to receive timely treatment can be the difference between life and death, particularly when conditions like Covid are involved. Often patients affected by a delayed diagnosis are not aware of the situation. Since the doctor may eventually discover the problem, some patients may be under the mistaken assumption that the doctor cannot be legally responsible for the delayed diagnosis that caused harm. In reality, the law recognizes that delays in diagnosis can be just as damaging as the failure to diagnose.
In all potential legal actions stemming from these situations, the key factor is proving a doctor’s negligence. In terms of missed or delayed diagnosis, a patient would have to prove that a doctor in a similar specialty, under similar circumstances, would not have missed the diagnosis. In delayed diagnosis cases, the patient must show that a “reasonable doctor” would have made the diagnosis sooner, and that an earlier diagnosis would have prevented harm.
A crucial issue in all of these cases is proving the exact harm that was caused by the malpractice. Specifically, that the missed or delayed diagnosis caused the patient harm above and beyond the inevitable harm from the underlying medical condition. If your loved one recently suffered injury or death resulting from a missed or delayed diagnosis, you must act quickly. Michigan law does a poor job protecting people injured by medical professionals and any delay in seeking legal help can mean losing your rights forever.
Misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis can result in hospitalization and even death.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a missed or delayed diagnosis, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney at Buchanan Firm in Michigan for a free consultation. We can discuss your situation if you believe you’ve been injured as the result of a misdiagnosis, missed diagnosis, or an error in test results.
Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital to accommodate you.