Understaffed Medical Facility

City council pays in death of woman with misdiagnosed blood clot

A 33-year-old Arizona woman was told by a paramedic working for the Phoenix Fire Department she was experiencing a panic attack after struggling to breathe and losing consciousness twice. The condition of the woman worsened overnight, and she was taken to the hospital the next day. The diagnosis was two blood clots in her lungs. Two weeks later, the woman was dead.

The Phoenix City Council agreed to pay a $1 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the woman’s family against the Phoenix Fire Department. A second suit filed by the family identified a doctor and staff members at Dignity Health as defendants. The woman, who was four months pregnant at the time of the incident, sought treatment at a hospital the day before her encounter with the paramedic. Tests revealed her pulse was faster than it should have been.

Court documents allege that doctors failed to question the woman about her family history that involved blood clots. Both her sister and father experienced past problems with blood clots. The trip to the doctor ended with a bronchitis diagnosis and a prescription for an inhaler.

A day later, the woman collapsed in her home after telling her daughter she was having trouble breathing. The daughter called 911 for help. The paramedic that arrived instructed the woman she was experiencing a panic attack and there was no need for additional medical treatment. The next day, the woman went to her primary care doctor, who had her transferred to a local hospital.

Patients depend on medical professionals to get a diagnosis right when they are suffering a medical crisis. When this does not happen, life-threatening consequences are possible. Individuals and families who have endured pain, suffering, or loss due to a medical misdiagnosis may benefit from a conversation with a personal injury attorney.