Doctors Sued After Lab Test Failed to Report Correct Information
Joseph Elone entered the hospital with a fever of 101.4 degrees and a heart rate around 140 beats per minute. He was both awake and screaming when he was admitted. Tests indicated that Joseph had a heart blockage and an enlarged heart. Before consulting with a cardiologist, the doctors at the Vassar Brothers Medical Center transferred the 17-year-old to Westchester Medical Center.
Two hours later, the honor student died of myocarditis brought on by Lyme diseases. Joseph’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his pediatrician who could have prevented the advancement of the disease before it became fatal.
Lyme Disease Test Comes Back Negative
Elone’s pediatrician never attempted to treat him for Lyme disease because they couldn’t find any signs of the characteristic rash and the test came back negative. One of the issues with Lyme disease, at least for those of African descent, is that it is more difficult to see a rash on darker skin than it is lighter skin. But the question remains: Why did the Lyme disease test come back negative?
The case has been working its way through the courts since 2015. Lyme disease experts say that this indicates a need for better methods of testing for Lyme disease. The distraught parents believe that their doctor was negligent for failing to correctly diagnose Elone before it was too late. But does this rise to the standard of medical malpractice?
One thing that most laypeople don’t fully understand is that just because a mistake is made, that doesn’t mean that the doctor is guilty of medical negligence. In this case, the available test showed that Elone was negative for Lyme disease and the doctor couldn’t find a rash anywhere on Elone’s body. Yet not every case of Lyme disease presents with a rash and a doctor would know that it would be more difficult to find one because Elone was African American.
What About the ER Doctors?
ER doctors are very difficult to sue for medical malpractice because they are required to make split-second decisions. In other words, they’re held to a lower standard than primary doctors, surgeons, or other doctors who have more time to prepare. It’s very difficult to convince a medical expert to testify that an ER doctor is guilty of medical negligence when they are required to make life-and-death decisions quickly in order to save patients.
For that reason, a judge dismissed the lawsuit against all but one party. The only party named in the current lawsuit is Denny James Pacheco who is facing other medical malpractice claims that may void his license to practice in New York State.
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