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Failure to diagnose in a timely manner led to man's death

Time is of the essence in many medical emergencies. The failure to diagnose a patient's condition in a timely manner by doctors here in Oregon and elsewhere could cost that person's life. Surviving family members from another state filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, claiming that doctors waited too long to determine that their loved one had a life-threatening condition that ultimately caused his death.

The man was suffering from back pain in January 2010. After consulting with his primary care physician and chiropractor, it was decided that he should go to the emergency room of a hospital in his area. It was suspected that he was suffering from an aortic dissection, which is a condition in which the large blood vessels that branch off the heart are torn. The condition is potentially fatal without timely and proper treatment.

Upon arriving at the emergency room, the Illinois man was made to wait around two hours before undergoing a CT scan to confirm his condition. His family claims that this delay cost him his life. However, the hospital and doctor involved claimed that the delay did not matter, considering the severity of his condition. Regardless, they settled the family's claims for $925,000.

Like anyone else, Oregon residents most likely expect that medical personnel will respond quickly when they go to an emergency room due to suspicions they are suffering from a potentially fatal condition. Any delay would seem unconscionable -- especially if the patient dies. Despite any medical opinions that the delay was inconsequential, the failure to diagnose in a timely manner could leave a grieving family wondering if those moments could have made the difference between life and death.

Source:, "Jury awards $925K to family of man who suffered aortic dissection; state med society says reform needed", Taryn Phaneuf, July 28, 2016

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