A multitude of medical malpractice lawsuits stems from a medical professional’s failure to accurately diagnose or delay diagnosing a patient’s condition, injury or ailment. Additional harm to a patient is inflicted when a diagnosis error leads to the wrong treatment or no treatment at all, ultimately leaving a patient to suffer the repercussions of an error made on behalf of a physician. A New Hampshire woman learned of the effects of a misdiagnosis the hard way when several doctors weren’t able to diagnose that a pill was lodged in her throat. Her bereaved family alleges that this oversight led to the death of their loved one.
According to a lawsuit filed by Patricia Putnam’s son, her medical issues began a few years ago while taking her daily medication. The 80-year-old claimed that she felt discomfort when one of her pills went down the wrong way when swallowing. Her husband, Ralph Putnam, called his wife’s primary care office out of concern, informing them that she been experiencing symptoms of a nasty cough and shortness of breath for an extensive period of time. Echoing his concerns, hospital staff urged Ralph to bring her to the Laconia Clinic emergency center immediately for evaluation.
Shortly after Patricia was admitted to the hospital, she was placed under the care of Dr. Thomas Scott. Upon hearing her symptoms he ordered X-rays of her chest and neck area. The lawsuit alleges that Scott examined the X-rays and concluded that she had just choked and was still in good health. He discharged her with orders of eating only soft foods for a few days until she felt better. Three days later, she was readmitted to the hospital complaining of symptoms of coughing and wheezing. She was seen by another doctor named Daniel Kallmerten, who had decided to order a chest X-ray. He told Patricia that she was experiencing exacerbation from a lung condition and sent her home with cough syrup and prednisone.
A week later she returned to the facility for a follow-up appointment. She was placed under the care of Dr. Adora Maharaj, who ordered yet another chest X-ray. Maharaj concluded that Patricia needed to be put on antibiotics and that she should consult with a surgeon “to see if she needs an endoscopy, (as) it could be chemical pneumonitis.” Maharaj reviewed the X-ray later that day and realized that it may indicate a sign of infection, she called Patricia and recommended her to a pulmonologist instead of a surgeon.
In her appointment with pulmonologist Eliza Deery- the fourth doctor she’s seen in a month’s span – she explained that she had trouble swallowing and has not been able to sleep for two weeks. She was sent away with an order to continue her antibiotics.
A few days later Patricia frantically called the doctor saying that she did not feel any better. She died a few hours later. The pill lodged in her throat had eroded a gap into her pulmonary artery. Her husband found her after she had collapsed in the bathroom.
A copy of the lawsuit was sent to the New Hampshire Board of Medicine. They have the authorization to revoke these doctors’ licenses to practice medicine.