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Misdiagnosis Wrongful Death Lawsuit Results in $8.25M Jury Award

A Chicago jury has awarded $8.25 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the family of a man who died due to complications following total knee replacement surgery. 

Adam Szwarek, Sr., suffered a fatal heart attack in December 2009, just two days after undergoing knee replacement surgery at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital in Chicago.

According to allegations raised in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by his family, hospital staff committed medical malpractice by failing to diagnose the heart attack.

As a result of the heart attack, Szwarek suffered hypoxia, anemia, confusion, and disorientation before dying. The family’s complaint indicates that the heart attack could have been detected with simple, cheap and non-invasive tests. Because it was not diagnosed, Szwarek suffered from the subsequent loss of blood flow.

Following a ten day trial before Cook County Judge Donald J. Suriano, the jury deliberated for two hours and 20 minutes before finding that the hospital had acted negligently, awarding $3.25 million to the family for grief and sorrow, and $5 million for loss of society.

A 2013 study published in the medical journal BMJ Quality & Safetyfound that medical misdiagnosis lawsuits account for more malpractice payments than any other type of complaint. According to that study, more than a third of all money paid for medical malpractice through verdicts and settlements was because of a misdiagnosis claim. Researchers found that medical misdiagnosis claims were more likely than any other type of malpractice lawsuit to involve the death of a patient.

Misdiagnosis harm can take the form of missed diagnosis of serious ailments and diseases, which can mean delays in crucial treatment that could affect both quality of life and the chances of survival. A misdiagnosis can also lead to patients being treated for the wrong problem, resulting in unnecessary exposure to drug side effects, radiation from various medical scans, and even unnecessary surgery that could miss the actual problem or exacerbate it.

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