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Medical Verdicts


Did delayed UTI treatment lead to death?

December 2002 · Vol. 14, No. 12

<court>Undisclosed County (Mo) Circuit Court</court>

A 67-year-old woman presented to a hospital for total knee replacement surgery. Urine cultures taken prior to the procedure indicated the presence of E. coli, prompting physicians to place her on preoperative antibiotics. Postoperatively, the patient experienced seizures, which a neurologist was called in to control.

She was then admitted to a rehabilitation center where it was discovered that she had a fractured hip. Prior to the surgical repair of her hip, she was treated for a urinary tract infection (UTI) with antibiotics. Postoperatively, she developed seizures and went into renal failure. Results from a urine culture revealed 3 different strains of Pseudomonas, undetected before the surgery. She died soon after.

In suing, the patient’s husband claimed the physicians’ failure to diagnose and treat the Pseudomonas urinary tract infection and to effectively manage her kidney failure caused the woman’s death.

The doctors claimed that the patient did not have a UTI, but rather a colonization or asymptomatic bacteriuria. Further, they contended that the patient’s death was due to complications of her hip fracture.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiff $1.2 million.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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