Yesterday we discussed the case of two medical malpractice suits that were filed on behalf of victims of defective kidney transplants. It was explained how the patients developed the very serious brain infection known as encephalitis which killed one victim and caused the other one permanent blindness. Unfortunately, these sorts of organ donation problems are not as rare as they should be. Stories continue to roll in of those who suffered extreme medical complications because they received organs which they never should have been allowed to receive.
For example, Third Age News reported last week on yet another medical malpractice case related to an infected kidney transplant. According to documents filed in this latest suit a man received a kidney that was infected with Hepatitis C. The kidney was actually donated by the man’s life partner of the last 21 years. The woman did not know that she had the condition before donating the organ. Yet, blood tests taken before the transplant showed that the woman was infected with hepatitis C. However, for reasons that are still under investigation, the hospital approved the woman for donation anyway and performed the surgery. The man who received the kidney contracted hepatitis C as a result.
The medical center which allowed the transplant has since admitted that it was “human error” which allowed the infected kidney to be approved for donation. The live-donor kidney and liver transplant programs at the university medical center were temporarily shut down when the problem was uncovered to ensure other victims were spared. The program has since been re-opened. Also, the doctor and nurse who were tasked with analyzing the blood test results were sanctioned by the hospital for their costly error.
Failure to properly evaluate test results is an all-too-common medical error that our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers have seen over the years. Doctors owe a duty to all patients to properly analyze the results of the diagnostic tests which are performed. When that duty is breached and injury results, a patient can file suit to seek compensation for their losses. Some local community members may be under the mistaken belief that to be found liable for these problems medical professionals must make an “active” mistake-such as operating on the wrong body part or giving more medication than necessary. However, negligence can be committed in “passive” ways as well, like the failure to take some action which a reasonable doctor would have taken in the same circumstance.
For example, in this case, the medical doctors did not physically botch the surgery or create the hepatitis C infection on their own. In fact, the infection was already present in the donor. However, the doctor’s were still negligent, because the circumstances were such that it was reasonable for the patient to rely on the doctor’s advice that the transplant was safe. All medical professionals understand that the advice they give has real consequences for those who receive it. Clients who visit all types of professionals-from lawyers to accountants-will rely on advice given by the professional under the reasonable assumption that the individual is highly trained in the field. When that advice is egregiously wrong, as it was in this case, then the victims who relied upon that advice can seek redress in the civil justice system.
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