Doctors and hospitals are guilty of negligence when a jury determines the medical professionals have wronged a patient. The families of patients who die from careless or inadequate treatment can often recover damages for pain and suffering and financial losses through medical malpractice lawsuits.

Philadelphia’s Temple University Hospital and two of its doctors were found guilty of medical malpractice in a recent, weeklong trial. The wrongful death lawsuit was filed on behalf of the victim’s five children, ages 8 and younger. The jury awarded the children $6.4 million.

The victim was an emergency room patient at Temple University Hospital in May 2009. The patient was taken by ambulance to the hospital after suffering shoulder and chest pains while playing basketball. The father of five had a history of atrial fibrillation. The patient was seen by a resident doctor and an attending physician, both named in the court action. Tests showed the patient suffered from a fainting spell and pneumonia. The lawsuit contends the physicians did not properly investigate the patient’s elevated white cell count.

The man was discharged, only to be rushed back to the hospital three months later after experiencing more severe symptoms. The patient was admitted to Temple University Hospital and placed on a ventilator, after suffering a seizure and going into shock.

Doctors determined the man’s heart had stopped beating during an acute heart attack. A lack of oxygen produced a brain injury. The patient was transferred to a long-term health care facility in Oct. 2009. Within a month, the 38-year-old father died.

The lawsuit blamed Temple’s doctors and the hospital for causal negligence. The health care providers are being held accountable for misconduct that led to a patient’s eventual death. A jury agreed the attending physician, who initially treated the patient, was 88 percent negligent. The resident doctor was assigned 12 percent of the responsibility. Temple University Hospital was 2 percent negligent.

The bulk of the jury award, more than $5.7 million, was for survival and wrongful death damages. Another $750,000 was allotted for the children’s pain and suffering.

Source: pennrecord.com, “Phila. jury renders $6.4 million plaintiffs’ verdict in medical malpractice, wrongful death case,” Jon Campisi, June 7, 2012