The Federal government has agreed to pay a Utah family nearly $1 million to settle a medical malpractice case. The man was being treated for leukemia at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City in 2004 when he developed a severe infection and died. His survivors sued, claiming the hospital failed to give him antibiotics in time. He died of sepsis from a low white-blood-cell count.
The Government agreed to settle the case for $950,000 to cover general damages and future lost income.
The 45 year old man, was diagnosed with leukemia in June 2004 and received chemotherapy at the VA in October. Three days after his last treatment, he had diarrhea and abdominal pain. After calling the hospital to see what to do, his wife was told by a doctor that he should take an over-the-counter medicine for gas.
The man received antibiotics about 10 hours after he was admitted to the emergency room, the lawsuit claims that two doctors ordered antibiotics in the ER but that nurses failed to follow orders. His leukemia was in remission and he was expected to live for at least another five years.
Medical Analysis: After receiving powerful chemotherapy medications, the patient’s white cell count fell to very low levels. Therefore he was left without the ability to fight off infections. Antibiotics were absolutely necessary but he got them too late.
Legal Analysis: Doctors and nurses have to have a high index of suspicious when patients who have been treated with chemotherapy call in or visit them for treatment. Overwhelming infection can happen, as here, in a matter of hours.