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2 die, 61 infected after hospital and doctors fail to diagnose TB

Patients who are feeling sick or experiencing worrisome symptoms often seek medical help. In many cases, doctors are able to quickly and accurately diagnose an individual's condition and prescribe appropriate medications. In other cases, however, doctors err in their attempts to diagnose an individual's illness or disease. When a failure to diagnose occurs, the consequences can be devastating and result in an individual suffering permanent injury, disability and even death.

A widowed man recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit in which he claims a hospital and its doctors were negligent in failing to diagnose his wife's serious medical condition. According to the lawsuit, the 25-year-old woman was being treated at the hospital after suffering symptoms commonly associated with tuberculosis. Having recently given birth to twin girls, despite her illness, the new mother was allowed to visit and engage with her premature daughters on a regular basis.

Over the span of four months, hospital doctors ran numerous tests on the woman in an attempt to diagnose her illness. In total, doctors arrived at 30 formal diagnoses all of which were wrong. It wasn't until two days prior to the woman’s death that doctors even considered she may have TB and a TB test wasn't performed until the day before the woman finally succumbed to the treatable disease.

In addition to losing his wife, the man was also forced to grieve the loss of both of his twin daughters. Further investigation into the babies' deaths showed that one of the girls also had TB.

As a result of the defendants' failure to diagnose the woman's serious medical condition, two lives were lost and several more adversely impacted. Numerous patients at the hospital were also exposed to TB which is a highly contagious disease that is readily spread when an infected individual coughs sneezes or speaks. To date, 61 patients have tested positive for the latent form of TB, meaning they may develop the more dangerous TB disease in the future.

This tragic case proves the devastating consequences that can result when doctors fail to take aggressive steps to diagnose an illness or disease. While nothing can bring back the loved ones the widowed man lost, he hopes that taking legal action will serve as retribution for his family and send a clear message to other hospitals and health care providers.

Source: KLAS-TV, "Wrongful death suit filed in Summerlin Hospital TB outbreak," Natalie Cullen, May 14, 2014Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Tuberculosis," 2014

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