When Doctors Make Mistakes: Preventable Loss of Life - $1.4 Million Settlement

Jane Smith* was an active, determined single mother supporting herself and her daughter Sarah, who was mentally challenged, by working at both the phone company and the bank. Jane possessed a wonderful outlook on life and shared a very close relationship with her daughter. One December, Jane developed symptoms similar to a chronic bronchial infection and went to her general practitioner at a local HMO to get treatment. Although she was given antibiotics, her symptoms, which included difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and cough, continued for two years.

During that time, while Jane was undergoing a routine exam by her gynecologist, he listened to her chest and heard a heart murmur which he advised her to check out. Jane was already scheduled to see a lung specialist for her problems. At this visit, she related her gynecologist's comments about a heart murmur as well as her difficulty in breathing while engaging in any activity. The lung specialist's response was "Exercise and get yourself into shape. There is nothing wrong with your heart." Jane continued to undergo treatment with her general practitioner, complaining of her shortness of breath and coughing up blood.

Finally almost two years after her first visit to her general practitioner, Jane took herself to the hospital at which point she was admitted and diagnosed with a very serious heart problem, mitral valve stenosis, which caused damage to the muscles of her heart. Because Jane had been misdiagnosed for over a year, her condition was so advanced that little could be done to alleviate her susceptibility to blood clots. Unfortunately, at the hospital Jane was given anti-clotting medication known as heparin, which resulted in an undiagnosed allergic reaction causing extreme blood loss, all of which ultimately resulted in her death.

Jane Smith was the victim of several types of medical malpractice: by her general practitioner, by the lung doctor and by the hospital. As a result of their negligence, Jane Smith lost her life, leaving a daughter who would be unable to care for herself independently. Fortunately, after being told that she had no case by a large law firm, Jane's sister came to Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney who brought a lawsuit against these medical professionals for failing to properly treat Jane. The doctor's case collapsed when Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney proved that he had lied in his testimony, claiming Jane never told him about a heart murmur. Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney was able to settle this case on the eve of the trial for over $1.4 million. Although nothing will bring back Jane's joy of life and love for those for whom she cared, now Jane's sister will always be able to care for Sarah both emotionally and financially.

*We are prohibited from reporting the names of the doctors and hospital involved.

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