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Failure to diagnose infection caused serious problems for man

For people who are in pain, injections are sometimes the only thing they can find that helps to alleviate their pain. While most people can count on doctors to perform these injections properly, other people have doctors who don't follow proper protocol. One recent jury award in a medical malpractice lawsuit brings the issue of the risks of pain injections into the limelight.

The medical malpractice lawsuit has to do with a 40-year-old man who committed suicide. His parents alleged that serious spinal injuries caused by a doctor who was careless while administering the injections led to the man taking his life.

The man suffered from chronic lower back pain. After an epidural steroid injection, which didn't alleviate his pain, on Jan. 5, 2009, the man developed a lump where the needle was inserted. He said the lump hurt, but was told by the pain clinic that swelling at the injection site is normal, according to the man's girlfriend. He returned to the clinic on Jan. 13 at which time he told a nurse about the lump but was told that it was no problem, according to a deposition he gave prior to his death.

He was diagnosed with meningitis on Jan. 21 after his girlfriend found him disoriented in his apartment. The meningitis was caused by antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria. He was told he would likely be paralyzed or die, but he pulled through in about 10 days. That infection, however, wrecked havoc on the man's body. He was unable to control his bowels or bladder, he had trouble walking, he was in constant pain, and he was impotent. He later took his own life.

A jury awarded the man's parents almost $3 million. A cap in that state limits the noneconomic damages to $250,000, so the man's parents' award can't actually be more than around $1.67 million. Because of a history of mental illness, which includes a history of bipolar disorder, the attorneys for the defendants say they will appeal the jury's award on grounds that mental illness was the cause of his suicide.

Failure to diagnose a condition can cause serious problems for a patient. Anyone who has suffered adverse effects of a condition going untreated because of a doctor's failure to diagnose it might have a right to seek compensation for those effects. Understanding Kentucky laws regarding medical malpractice might make the process easier.

Source: Kentucky.com, "Jury awards nearly $3 million in malpractice case" No author given, Apr. 07, 2014

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