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Medical malpractice case alleges premature release caused murder

The formula for most medical malpractice lawsuits is fairly straightforward: a patient enters a hospital, a doctor is negligent in treatment of patient while there, the patient's condition gets worse or was misdiagnosed or, in the worst case scenario, the patient dies.

One medical malpractice lawsuit has turned these factors upside down.The case involves a murder that took place away from the hospital, but the lawsuit alleges that the hospital is still responsible for medical malpractice.

A man was admitted to a hospital under a hold order from the local probate court, but despite the order he was released from the hospital. Within a few hours of being released, he had stabbed and killed his wife as one of their daughters witnessed the crime, for which he has since been found guilty.

The medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that the release of the man by the hospital was the proximate cause of his wife's death. Another part of the suit alleges that the hospital is liable for placing the child who witnessed the murder in the zone of danger, as well as for causing her severe emotional distress.

While any medical malpractice case that ends in a death is tragic, rarely does the act that causes the death extend beyond the actual hands of the surgeon or physician treating the patient.

This particular case includes three elements of alleged medical malpractice that ordinarily would not be part of a medical malpractice lawsuit:

  1. The ultimate act involves murder and not a negligent act by a medical professional that allegedly caused the death of the patient;
  2. The person who actually suffered harm was not the patient, but rather someone who was harmed by the patient; and
  3. The act that ultimately gives rise to a claim of medical malpractice did not occur on the grounds of a hospital or outpatient facility.

It is likely that only an attorney with a solid understanding of these complexities would be able to connect a case of murder to an alleged medical malpractice claim.

Regardless of whether the facts of your particular incident of medical malpractice are similar to those that happen in an ordinary situation or in an unusual situation such as this one, consulting a South Carolina attorney who can sort out the events and the players is crucial to the success of your claim.

Source: Cullman Times, "Walker Baptist facing suits from Tammy Lindsay family," Zach Winslett, Nov. 23, 2104

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