When he first came to my office, my client was bravely battling an infection that was eating away at his lungs. This lung infection is known to doctors as MAC, which stands for Mycobacterium Avium Complex. There are published guidelines that tell doctors how to treat this infection. Unfortunately for my client, his doctor did not follow these guidelines. Sadly, this medical malpractice cost my client his life.
After taking this case, I had the medical records reviewed by a board-certified pulmonologist, who was also a professor of medicine at LSU. During my initial conversation with him, he explained that there are published practice guidelines for how to treat a MAC infection. These standards of practice have been approved and adopted by the leading professional societies for pulmonologists and infectious disease doctors. The standards required a regimen of antibiotics to be administered for a certain period of time. During this period, the doctor must obtain a sputum culture to make sure that the MAC bug is dead. Only after getting a negative sputum culture can the doctor discontinue the antibiotics.
The defendant’s doctor did administer the correct antibiotics. However, he failed to monitor the treatment with sputum cultures. As a result, antibiotic therapy was discontinued too soon. What happened next was a death sentence: the infection came back even stronger. It was now resistant to antibiotics. Despite a brave fight, my client died soon after we filed the lawsuit. He left behind four sons and a wife of thirty years.
Because this medical malpractice caused the patient’s death, we changed the lawsuit to a wrongful death case. Florida law provides for money damages for the survivors of a patient who dies as a result of medical malpractice. We sought money damages for the loss of services, loss of income, and loss of companionship and society for his family. Knowing that they could not likely win this case, the defendant’s doctor’s insurance company paid a confidential seven-figure settlement.