Michael H. Bereston, Inc.

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Buried alive: when medical malpractice may be the perpetrator

A life was lost in a most horrific way earlier this month when a doctor made an incredible mistake. This medical malpractice case is tied into the topic of our previous posts. Our previous post touched on the issues of misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose that can lead to serious complications or even fatal consequences.

In this case, an 80-year-old woman had checked into a medical center. There, doctors made the diagnosis that she had suffered a heart attack, but this wasn’t the diagnosis that was in dispute in the wrongful death lawsuit. It was the incorrect pronouncement of her death subsequent to this heart attack.

After the woman was pronounced dead, she was transferred to the mortuary. When the morticians received the body, they were surprised to find that instead of lying on her back, the woman was facedown. This wasn’t the only indication that a terrible error had been made. The morticians also noticed bruises, a broken nose and cuts that evidenced the likelihood that she was still alive when her body had been frozen, which the pathologist later confirmed.

When the family filed the lawsuit, the trial judge initially dismissed the case due to a statute of limitations that barred claims in that jurisdiction that were filed one year after discovering an injury. That ruling was overturned on appeal based on the fact that it wasn’t until later that the pathologist made the determination of the deadly error, and this was the appropriate date to start the clock running.

This case is a reminder that individuals who suspect that medical negligence may be a factor in their case should consult with an Annapolis attorney immediately. Time does matter, and it is important that no undue delays are caused that could affect the outcome of a claim.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Lawsuit: Woman frozen alive in L.A. hospital died trying to escape,” Victoria Kim, April 3, 2014

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Michael H. Bereston, Inc.
138 Main Street, Suite 200
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Annapolis, MD 21401

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