In 2013, a man from Maryland died after contracting rabies from an infected kidney that he received as a transplant in 2011. This is only the second time that rabies has been transmitted through a donated organ in the US. Rabies is extremely rare in the US - causing only 1 to 3 deaths a year. Additionally, signs and symptoms of rabies usually appear within a month or two after initial infection, so the fact that the man’s symptoms appeared over a year after his transplant was something that steered doctors away from a rabies diagnosis.
According to reports, the kidney donor, a 20-year-old Air Force airman, died of encephalitis, however, doctors could find no reason for this. In fact, they believed he may have been poisoned, so they did a full medical work-up and tested for everything they could think of in order to try and determine the cause of his encephalitis. They didn’t think to check for rabies and declared his organs and tissues safe for transplantation - a major medical error on their part.
Like his donor, the Maryland transplant recipient was diagnosed with unspecified encephalitis due to the infected kidney he had received, and by the time doctors realized what the cause of his encephalitis was it was too late. He died on that same day. Thankfully, doctors managed to contact the other recipients of the contaminated organs and treated them accordingly.
Due to the complex nature and rarity of the case, no medical malpractice lawsuit was opened, however, the case remains a shining example of the dangers of medical errors and how they can lead to grievous bodily harm and even death.
Other Types of Medical Errors
Medical errors are defined as adverse effects that you suffer at the hands of your doctor that are usually preventable. This is why they are considered medical malpractice. They can take several forms, including:
- Diagnostic Errors
- Medication Errors
- Laboratory Errors
- Surgical Errors
- Anesthesia Errors
- Treatment Errors
- Coordinated Care Errors
- Medical Device Errors
It is best if you consult with a qualified medical malpractice lawyer if you wish to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit for a medical error that you have experienced. This is because medical malpractice law is complex, and the laws differ between states. You will need a qualified NYC medical malpractice attorney if you live in NYC to ensure that you follow the correct procedural steps when filing your medical malpractice lawsuit, and so that you are aware of the statute of limitations.
Usually, the procedural steps are as follows:
- Contacting your doctor to find out what exactly went wrong and if it can be remediated
- Contacting the appropriate licensing board if your doctor does not assist you in this way
- Finding out the statute of limitations so that you submit your claim timeously
- Showing that a doctor-patient relationship existed between you and your doctor
- Getting a certificate of merit to prove that your injuries resulted from the medical error you are claiming and that your doctor was negligent when treating you
- Proving that this medical error caused you significant injury or distress
- Discussing the possibility of settling out of court due to the time and financial costs associated with a full, prolonged trial
If you think that you or even a family member may have been a victim of a medical error, please contact the medical malpractice lawyers of Rosenburg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff LLP in NYC today.
You can speak to one of our medical malpractice attorneys by calling 1-866-516-5887 for a free, confidential consultation.