Tabitha Mullings is suing Brooklyn Hospital Center after a “medical mistake” allegedly led to the loss of all of her limbs during a visit over a simple kidney stone. Mullings was sent home with painkillers, leaving an infection untreated due to the failure to have a blood test performed. She collapsed in a matter of days into a semi-coma, only to wake without any arms or legs.
The 32-year-old mother of three is suing the hospital for $100 million dollars.
This form of alleged malpractice is perhaps the most common — particularly with HMOs and hospitals cutting back on tests and staff in some areas. The failure to diagnosis infection or cancer can raise difficult legal questions in terms of cause in fact. However, in Herskovits v. Group Health Cooperative (1983), doctors were still liable for the negligent failure to diagnose lung cancer — causing a 14% reduction in chance of survival. They were liable for the reduction of survivability, even though the patient had less than a 50% chance to live.
This case will be more difficult for the hospital since, presumably, this infection could have been treated without loss of life or limb. It will come down to whether a reasonable physician would have ordered tests in such a circumstance.
For the story, click here.