Hospital faces wrongful death lawsuit in misdiagnosis

Residents of New York may be familiar with the news release regarding the medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit recently filed against a hospital in New Mexico by the widow of Russell Means, an Arizona American Indian activist and former leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM). In the lawsuit, Mrs. Means claims that the hospital's staff incorrectly diagnosed her husband's health condition, which contributed to his death in 2012.

According to the report, the woman alleges that in 2011, doctors with the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe failed to notice that her husband was suffering from esophageal cancer, even though he displayed clear symptoms such as spitting up blood and trouble swallowing. In the lawsuit, which was filed in a state court in San Miguel County, it was stated that medical personnel at the hospital reportedly told Mrs. Means that her husband did not have cancer but could be suffering from enlarged tonsil instead, even though his tonsils were removed when he was a child.

The lawsuit further stated that whenever Mr. Means was tested again, it was determined that he did indeed have cancer. However, by that time, it was too late since the cancer had taken over his entire body. A short time later, he died at the age of 72.

In cases where an individual has lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, an attorney may be able to assist the family member in holding the hospital and its medical staff liable for damages. If it can be proven in a civil court that the hospital was guilty of negligent actions that led to the death of the family member, such as a misdiagnosis, the family might be compensated for any medical and funeral costs, a loss of contributions of income and, in some cases, non-economic losses including a loss of companionship and mental anguish.

Source: Reuters, "Widow of American Indian activist sues doctors over his death", Keith Coffman, June 26, 2014

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