Young Girl’s Family Wins Case Involving Doctor Miscommunication

Sometimes, doctors communicate with each other in connection to patient care. In such communication, it is very important for doctors to be clear and to take all proper steps to prevent misunderstandings. Communication mistakes may seem like a fairly minor thing, but they can be very harmful in the medical realm. Miscommunications among doctors can sometimes lead to patients suffering impactful injuries. No patient should have to suffer harm because a doctor failed to act properly.

Recently, a decision was reached in a medical malpractice case that involved alleged miscommunication among doctors. The case was from another state, Washington.

The case involved a girl who had a heart transplant when she was very young. The case centered on an incident that occurred in late 2008, when the girl was four.

Reportedly, the girl had developed a cold. Her mother got concerned and contacted a hospital by phone. The girl’s mother talked with a cardiology fellow.

The cardiology fellow then contacted another doctor (a transplant cardiologist who had provided care to the girl) to discuss what medications to recommend. Allegedly, a miscommunication occurred during this conversation. Reportedly, the transplant cardiologist told the cardiology fellow that Afrin nasal spray should not be given to the girl. However, when the cardiology fellow contacted the girl’s mother after this conversation, he included Afrin nasal spray in his list of medications it was okay to give the girl.

It was alleged that this led to the girl being given Afrin nasal spray. It was further alleged that the nasal spray caused the girl to suffer serious brain damage.

In connection to these allegations, a lawsuit was brought by the girl’s family against the university the two above-mentioned doctors were employed by. The judge in this case recently reached a decision. The judge ruled against the university and awarded the girl’s family a large monetary judgment.

While this case was from another state, it illustrates a point that is worth noting here in Connecticut. This is that miscommunications among doctors can cause great harm to patients. Thus, one hopes that doctors make sure to act properly when communicating with other doctors in relation to patient care.

Source: The Seattle Times, “UW must pay family $15M for error that left daughter disabled,” Carol M. Ostrom, July 12, 2013

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