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Patient ignored in emergency room falls into coma

It is tough enough going to an emergency room after a serious injury, you shouldn’t have to wait an eternity in order to get medical attention. Unfortunately, patients can fall through the cracks in the midst of a busy trauma center, and may not be seen in a reasonable amount of time. When this happens, what may be a commonly treatable injury may progress into something worse and life threatening.

Such was the case of a patient who came to an emergency room complaining of a severe headache and excessive vomiting. The patient’s wife even informed medical personnel that he had recently been hospitalized for bacterial meningitis. He also had been diagnosed previously with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and had been placed on blood thinners. 

For more than four hours the patient was not seen by a physician despite abnormal vital signs and laboratory readings. Soon afterwards, the patient fell into a coma. Indeed, the patient did not pass away, but a medical malpractice suit was initiated due to the failure to diagnose him in time to prevent a common ailment from progressing into something substantially worse.

As we have noted in a number of our posts, physicians and medical personnel have a duty to act with reasonable care in evaluating and treating patients. This means that doctors must diagnose a patient in a reasonable amount of time to avoid the possibility of allowing a benign issue from becoming something life threatening. If a doctor fails to evaluate a patient in such a time frame, and a patient is harmed, the doctor could be held liable. 

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