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Can I sue my doctor / physician for delayed diagnosis of infection leading to sepsis or necrotizing fasciitis and death in Massachusetts?

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Doctors and physicians, like most other professionals such as lawyers, architects and accountants, owe a duty of care to their patient. When a doctor’s conduct falls below the level of care expected of the average qualified physician practicing in that specialty at that time, the doctor is “negligent” or commits “medical malpractice.” In order to bring an action against a doctor, aside from proving the doctor was negligent, you must be able to prove that you or a loved one suffered harm and that the negligence is what caused that harm.

A delay in diagnosis of infection can lead to catastrophic results such as systemic sepsis, necrotizing fasciitis and even death. A delay in diagnosis of infection can occur in a variety of ways. For example:

  • An emergency room physician fails to follow up on a urine culture that tests positive for infection, develops into e-coli and takes the patient’s life.
  • An attending physician or hospitalist fails to heed a patient’s complaints of pain, lethargy and general unrest following a surgical procedure, delaying the administration of antibiotics and allowing the infection to proceed to necrotizing fasciitis.
  • A surgeon causes an intestinal perforation and post-surgical signs and symptoms, such as elevated temperature, tachycardia, rapid respirations and diaphoresis, go unheeded and do not lead to a rapid re-exploration of the surgical field.
  • An intensivist or ICU physician fails to obtain a timely surgical consult, fails to timely intubate the patient and fails to order a stat fluid resuscitation for a patient with an acute abdomen.

These are just some isolated examples of how a delay in diagnosis of infection can occur, which may very well be actionable in Massachusetts.

If you have concerns that a doctor, nurse or other medical care provider delayed in diagnosing or treating an infection in you or a loved one, look for an attorney that specifically handles medical malpractice actions, since they are unique and complex cases. Also, do not delay in speaking with a lawyer since like most actions, an action for medical malpractice must be brought within a certain amount of time.

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