Wisconsin Malpractice Lawsuit Results in $3.7M for Infection Misdiagnosis

A Wisconsin jury has awarded $3.7 million to the family of a man who died after a doctor’s office misdiagnosed a fungal infection as pneumonia.

The medical malpractice lawsuit was filed by the family of Gustavo Espinel-Santos, who alleged that Dr. Peri Aldrich and the Berlin Family Medical Center failed to run basic diagnostic tests that would have led to a proper diagnosed and saved his life.

After two visits to the Berlin Family Medical Center in December 2003, where physician assistants told him he had pneumonia, Espinel-Santos was admitted to St. Vincent Hospital on December 23, 2003, where he was diagnosed as having a fungal infection known as blastomycosis. However the infection diagnosis came too late for Espinel-Santos to receive proper treatment and he died.

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Following a four-day trial, the jury awarded $3.7 million to Espinel-Santos’s wife, Marie Zavala McDaniel, and his two young children. According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, the award will be reduced in accordance with a state law that places a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages in Wisconsin malpractice lawsuits.

Prompt infection diagnosis and treatment is important, as infectious bacteria can create toxins that damage nearby cells. Untreated, bacterial infections can spread throughout the body through the bloodstream, a condition called bactermia.

Blastomycosis is caused by fungal bacteria known as Blastomyces dermatidis, and is often transmitted through water and soil. Mortality rates for the infection are about 42% for untreated cases, but death is extremely rare in cases where a correct diagnosis and proper treatment occur.


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