The 15-year-old was strong, healthy and athletic prior to his first visit to the hospital. When he was admitted to the hospital just two days short of his 15th birthday, he never imagined he would be stuck with a permanent heart condition for the rest of his life.
According to the medical malpractice lawsuit, two different hospitals misdiagnosed the boy and worsened his heart condition. Now, the patient faces a lifetime of medication and multiple surgeries to keep himself stable.
According to court records, the patient was first admitted to a hospital for shortness of breath, chest pain and an accelerated heartbeat. The radiologist on duty misdiagnosed what was later recognized as pending heart failure as walking pneumonia. The typical treatment for walking pneumonia is to administer fluids and antibiotics, which is what the radiologist prescribed before sending the boy home.
The antibiotics would fail and four days later, he was admitted to an emergency room. There, the doctor correctly diagnosed him with pending heart failure. However, the doctor continued to administer fluids. The boy was shortly airlifted to a Baltimore, Maryland hospital.
Once at this new hospital, the boy was put on an urgent fluid restriction and rounds of diuretics to dehydrate the body due to his worsening heart failure. However, the doctor changed the diagnosis from pending heart failure due to cardiomyopathy (which was correct) to septic shock. The patient was treated with a much larger round of fluids.
Here’s the problem. When a patient is undergoing heart failure, doctors do not administer fluids and in most cases, restrict the amount of fluids a patient receives because the fluids can retain in the lungs or stretch the heart muscle to a degree where it no longer functions, which is exactly what this teenage boy experienced. Due to the irreversible damage to his heart caused by the fluids, he underwent a heart transplant a year later.
Now, the patient is facing anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life to help his body continue to accept the organ. It is also likely he will need one or more additional heart transplants in the future. According to the report, the doctors had more than enough evidence through scans, tests and not to mention the positive results from a heart failure test to make the correct diagnosis from the beginning. So, the fact that this patient was misdiagnosed twice was inexcusable. The standard medical protocol for any doctor who has the slightest suspicion their patient could be experiencing heart failure is to withhold fluids until that option is ruled out. The medical malpractice lawsuit seeks compensation for future medical treatment the patient will, in all likelihood, require.
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P. is a personal injury law firm that helps victims of medical malpractice in Washington, Maryland and Virginia.