The high rates of malpractice suits raise the question, “Should healthcare professionals not be allowed to make any mistakes?” Consider the following case. In your estimation, is failing to pursue further testing simply a mistake? Consider this from the point of view of the risk manager and of the patient’s spouse.
A 38-year-old female was admitted to the emergency room of Goodcare Hospital with symptoms that suggested a gastrointestinal problem. The attending physician performed all the routine tests, and the results were normal. During the time the patient was in the ER, she had uncontrolled diarrhea and grew weaker. The medication given did not help. The patient died, and the autopsy revealed that she was suffering from giardiasis, an intestinal parasitic infection. This infection is not detected by routine parasitic testing. If detected, the infection can be effectively treated with antibiotics. In this case, if the patient had been correctly diagnosed, she would likely have recovered quickly and lived. The attending physician was sued for negligence for failing to diagnose the infection. A jury awarded the woman’s husband $725,000.