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Family awarded $4.5 million after medical malpractice death

When North Carolina residents suffer injuries, they expect to receive top-notch treatment from their local doctor or hospital. However, some medical professionals fail to recognize the risks involved when they don't act quickly enough to remedy a person's medical situation. Two doctors are now paying the price for their negligence -- to the tune of $4.5 million -- after a woman died while under their care.

The victim's family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, claiming negligence on behalf of the doctors. The trial lasted two weeks and even though the patient prevailed, Massachusetts General Hospital believes that the doctors acted appropriately in the situation. Both are still employed by the hospital.

In March 2005, the 62-year-old woman fell off a ladder while cleaning her home. She was taken to a local hospital, where a scan of her chest and pelvis was performed. It was found that she had broken three ribs. The tip of one of the broken ribs was next to her aorta.

The woman was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and while doctors assessed her condition, no immediate surgery or imaging was done. Instead, doctors waited until the next day for an X-ray. Meanwhile, the woman began to develop a cough, which caused the broken rib to puncture her aorta.

The woman went into cardiac arrest and while doctors attempted life-saving measures, she was unresponsive. She died less than 20 minutes later.

Delaying medical treatment was a fatal mistake for the doctors. With a puncture likely, medical staff should have stepped in immediately to prevent injury to the aorta -- the body's largest artery. Now a woman is dead due to the doctors' negligence, but at least the family may be able to move on now after holding the two doctors responsible for their loved one's death.

Source: The Boston Globe, "MGH doctors to pay $4.5m over death" Jacqueline Tempera, Apr. 16, 2014

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