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When it comes to matter of the heart, injury and illness should be taken very seriously. Patients admitted to a hospital in Massachusetts with any potentially life-threatening condition expect doctors to explore every possible angle to ensure safety and well-being. A doctor error, such as failing to order necessary tests or taking preventative action, can have particularly devastating results.

Three children have lost their 62-year-old mother after an incident that could have been prevented. The attorney for the Plymouth woman’s estate noted that she died as a result of coughing in her hospital bed. The cough caused a rib she had previously broken to pierce a 1-centimeter hole in her aorta. According to the attorney, the physicians – who still work at the hospital – should have done more to prevent the incident.

It all began when the woman fell off a ladder during spring cleaning. She was taken to a hospital and sent on to another facility where surgeons could better address one of several broken ribs that doctors noticed was positioned closely to her heart. The physicians at the second facility delayed an X-ray but kept an eye on the woman overnight. Unfortunately, a bad cough she had caused the rib to puncture the aorta the next morning, sending the woman into cardiac arrest and ultimately killing her.

The physicians will pay the woman’s family $4.5 million as a result of the death. Anyone who has suffered as a result of medical malpractice or who has lost a loved one as a result of a doctor’s mistake should consult with an attorney. Filing either a personal injury or wrongful death claim can secure compensation and help bring negligent parties to justice.

Source: Boston Globe, “MGH doctors to pay $4.5m over death,” Jacqueline Tempera, April 16, 2014