The family of a man that died after knee replacement surgery has been awarded $8.25 million by a Chicago jury. The jury determined that medical malpractice led to the misdiagnosis of a heart attack just two days after the man underwent knee replacement surgery. The misdiagnosis led to a breach of care that resulted in the man’s death, the jury decided.

Adam Szwarek, Sr., underwent knee replacement surgery in December 2009 at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital in Chicago.  Two days later, Szwarek suffered a heart attack. Despite the fact that he suffered signs of a problem, including anemia, hypoxia and disorientation, no tests were ordered at the hospital to confirm the cardiac event. Szwarek died from reduced blood flow due to a myocardial infarction.

“Cheap” testing could have saved a life

The attorney representing Szwarek’s wife and son told the Cook County Record that medical personnel at the hospital simply had to order “cheap, available and non-invasive” tests to confirm the heart attack and treat Szwarek appropriately to save his life. However, those tests were never ordered and Szwarek died from the heart attack a short time later.

The jury agreed with the allegations presented by the plaintiff, awarding $3.25 million to the family for grief and sorrow and another $5 million for loss of society. An attorney for the defendant told the Cook County Record the hospital does not agree with the verdict and is considering appeal options at this time.

The problem of misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis has become a major problem in the United States. According to a 2014 study published in the journal BMJ Quality and Safety, around 12 million adults seeking outpatient medical care are misdiagnosed every year. That equates to one out of every 20 patients seeking care and around half of those diagnostic errors could result in serious harm to the patient.

A 2013 study reported by U.S. News and World Report found that diagnostic errors are the leading cause of medical malpractice payouts in this country. Out of the malpractice payouts totaling $3.8 billion between 1986 and 2010, 35 percent were a result of diagnostic errors.

While the majority of diagnostic errors occur in an outpatient setting, errors like Szwarek’s that occur in the hospital were more likely to be fatal. Diagnosing errors are the top reason for insurance claims involving disability or death. As many as 160,000 misdiagnoses may be attributed to preventable permanent damage or death each year.

Can you reduce misdiagnosis risk?

There are some steps patients can take to lower the risk of a misdiagnosis. Some of those recommendations include careful tracking of symptoms, full knowledge of their medical history and asking plenty of questions of their doctor. However, despite a patient’s best intentions, diagnosis errors can still tragically occur.

Victims of medical malpractice involving a misdiagnosis may face an uphill legal battle in their efforts to bring the responsible parties to justice and collect the compensatory damages they desperately need. Experienced legal representation is essential to help victims navigate the complexities of the legal process, protect their rights and get them the compensation they are entitled to.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of misdiagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain, suffering and economic losses. Contact The Sanders Firm today at 1.800.FAIR.PLAY for a free case evaluation and answers to all of your legal questions. Resources

  1. Cook County Record, Family of Man Who Died after Knee Surgery Awarded $8.25 Million in Hospital Death Suit,
  2. Mercola, Most Americans will be Misdiagnosed at Least Once,
  3. CBS News, 12 Million Americans Misdiagnosed Each Year,
  4. US News and World Report, “Misdiagnosis” Leading Cause of U.S. Malpractice Payouts: Study,
  5. Web MD, 8 Ways to Help Your Doctor Make the Right Diagnosis,