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St. Mary's Medical Center faces lawsuit after wrongful death

Medical negligence involves a wrongful act or omission by a health care provider where the treatment administered is below the standard of practice and results in the injury or death of the patient. In many cases, the doctor is at fault. These types of errors can occur anywhere in the United States, including in Louisiana.

Misdiagnosis of a fatal condition, overdose, a worsened medical condition and anesthesia error are all instances of medical mistakes. St. Mary's Medical Center, a health care provider, is now facing a wrongful death lawsuit involving a child.

The mother of the child was admitted to St. Mary's Medical Center for prenatal care and to deliver her child. She claims that during that time, the hospital committed several negligent acts, which caused "untreated Group B Streptococcus and ruptured membranes" and the wrongful death of her child. She filed a lawsuit against St. Mary's in Cabell Circuit Court on the grounds of negligence, medical professional liability, wrongful death and is claiming an undisclosed amount of compensation.

If a person dies as the result of another person's negligence or misconduct, the victim's family members may sue for wrongful death. In that case, the family must prove that a wrongful death was due to another person's negligence, which is a violation of the duty of care that was owed by the defendant to the victim.

Financial loss is one of the most damaging consequences in a wrongful death case. Financial hardships, medical and funeral expenses and loss of support are considered pecuniary damages. The law dictates that pecuniary damages must be a fair and just compensation for the losses from a victim's death. Punitive damages are awarded in a situation where it is determined that the guilty party deserves punishment. Many states steer away from awarding punitive damages because punishment is usually associated with committing crimes. However, some states have specific statutes that sanction punitive damages.

In the medical profession, doctors are respected and revered. However, doctors also have a tremendous responsibility. If a doctor's negligence causes the wrongful death of a patient, it is considered extremely serious and must be dealt with accordingly. The duty of care and, subsequently, the damages awarded, should be far greater in order to deter other medical practitioners from being negligent when handling a human life.

Source: The West Virginia Record, "St. Mary's hit with medical malpractice suit," Whitney Brakken, Feb. 5, 2014

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