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Massachusetts doctor misdiagnosed fatal heart condition

Many people know that chest pain can be a sign of something serious. When a North Adams resident experiences tightness in the chest, he or she typically seeks the help of a physician. It is imperative for the doctor to run the recommended tests in order to diagnose and treat the problem. Infections in the heart can prove to be fatal, and quick, correct actions can prevent tragedy. Unfortunately for one 23-year-old man, a doctor did not take the right course of treatment.

A brother and mother have not commented on what happened to the young man because of the emotions tied into his case. One night in 2006, the man went to bed and never woke up. Earlier that day, he had gone to a local hospital emergency room with a fever, cough and chest pains. After a five-minute meeting with the doctor, the man was sent home with a diagnosis of bronchitis and a prescription for antibiotics and painkillers.

It wasn’t until weeks later that medical examiners determined that the young man had a virus known as myocarditis, which causes inflammation in the heart muscle. According to the young man’s estate attorney, the physician should have ordered an electrocardiogram, which would have revealed the condition. A Suffolk County jury agreed that the doctor’s negligence was a substantial factor in the man’s death and awarded $4.8 million to his family.

The doctor did not renew his license when it expired in Massachusetts in 2010, though he does still practice in California. Any patient who suffers a worsened condition due to a doctor’s error, such as failing to diagnose a condition, should immediately contact an attorney. The compensation recovered from a medical malpractice suit can pay for an array of expenses, including medical bills.

Source: Boston Globe, “Jury awards $4.8m to family in death of patient,” Jacqueline Tempera, March 10, 2014

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