When you go to see a doctor, you expect to receive a diagnosis and a treatment plan that you can trust. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. In fact, medical malpractice is common in Florida and throughout the United States. Medical malpractice takes place when a patient is injured due to a medical professional’s failure to exercise reasonable care. Put another way, medical malpractice may have occurred if your injury took place because a health care professional failed to act as a reasonably prudent medical professional in the same specialty would have acted under those circumstances. This is clearly outlined in the law. But not all potential medical malpractice cases can be neatly analyzed under this rule. What happens when misconduct takes place after a person has died?
This was the question addressed by the Texas Supreme Court in Christus Health v. Carswell. In that case, the plaintiff’s husband was admitted to the defendant hospital with issues regarding pain. A physician at the hospital initially prescribed narcotics, which were stopped when the patient had an adverse reaction to the medication. A subsequent health care provider once again gave the patient the same medication, due to the fact that the patient was complaining about severe pain. Shortly afterward, the patient died.
Based on these facts, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim and asked for an autopsy to be conducted. She was told that her request was denied. However, some time later, an autopsy was done, but it failed to include a toxicology screening. The plaintiff claimed that this failure left her with no answers as to whether or not her husband died from a drug overdose or whether the adverse reaction he had to the narcotics was a contributing factor in his death. She amended her complaint to reflect these facts.