Poniente hospital guilty of negligence

Woman who suffered five-metre fall died after doctors failed to carry out potential life-saving tests, judge rules

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It is the second time this year that the hospital has lost a malpractice case

By Richard Torné

El Ejido’s main hospital has been found guilty of negligence over the death of a patient after medics failed to carry out the necessary tests on her following a serious fall.

The victim, a 56-year-old local woman whose identity has not been revealed, was admitted to the Poniente hospital in January 2010 after falling from her balcony, “from a height of four or five metres”.

An x-ray showed she had suffered a broken pelvis, but an orthopaedic surgeon decided against surgery and in favour of keeping her under observation.

Her condition quickly worsened, however, and she suffered a cardiac arrest within hours. Records show the cause of death as hypovolemic shock secondary to an internal haemorrhage.

The woman’s husband and daughter subsequently sued the hospital, leading to the court ruling in favour of their claim earlier this month.

Sentencing, the judge said “he could not understand” why no other tests such as an ultrasound or a CT scan had been carried out, “as they would have shed more light or dispelled doubts about injuries to internal organs”.

He said the additional tests were normal procedure and not considered to be either complicated or unnecessary.

The hospital and its insurer Zurich were ordered to compensate the woman’s relatives €187,500 in addition to paying the legal costs dating back to 2010.

It is the third case of negligence so far this year involving an Almería hospital.

Last month, insurers for Torrecárdenas in Almería city paid out €120,000 in compensation to the family of 70-year-old María Manuela Herrera, who died of an internal haemorrhage after a surgeon perforated her trachea while carrying out a tracheotomy.

And in January, a court ordered the Poniente hospital to pay more than €53,000 in damages to the relatives of a patient who died after doctors failed to detect his low blood sugar level.

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