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Woman claims medical malpractice caused brother's death

The advances in the medical field over the last century have likely lengthened the average lifespan for people in this country. While most doctors are experienced professionals with the best interests of their patients at heart, a mistake could cost a person his or her life. In many cases of medical malpractice, Wisconsin victims -- or their loved ones if the mistake led to a fatality -- have sought legal recourse in a civil court. One out-of-state woman is taking such an action, arguing that the actions of her brother's doctor caused his death.

The 78-year-old man passed away from sepsis, a type of infection, in Aug. 2011. His sister claims that his death was caused by a drug -- an antibiotic called Bactrim -- prescribed by his family doctor, the defendant in the case. This medicine allegedly caused to man to develop Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a skin disorder rarely seen. He was diagnosed with the disorder by doctors at the hospital in March 2011. He was soon discharged and spent the rest of his life in a nursing home.

At issue is a notation on his medical record from the doctors at the hospital. The note indicated that a family member of the patient reported that the family doctor had prescribed Bactrim 10 days before he was taken to the hospital. The defendant in the case claims that he had not prescribed the drug prior to his admission to the hospital and would not have been aware if another doctor had prescribed it. Additionally, he claims that the deceased man often had difficulty accurately recalling his treatment history.

The loss of a loved one as a result of medical malpractice is emotionally devastating. Patients, and their families, trust that their medical care professionals will provide a certain standard of care in order to meet their needs. They certainly do not expect that a healthcare worker's actions will be detrimental to their well being. However, people in Wisconsin have the option of seeking legal recourse, as this woman has done. If a plaintiff's case can be argued successfully, an award of monetary damages may be made by the court. 

Source: wacotrib.com, "Waco doctor accused in medical malpractice trial", Tommy Witherspoon, Nov. 11, 2014

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