Family Sues After Pro Baseball Player Collapses And Dies
If you are a pro sports player, you must undergo evaluations every year by team doctors to determine if you are healthy enough for strenuous activity. A ballplayer in the Minnesota Twins’ farm system collapsed on the field and died after an abnormal ECG revealed “clear signs” of a rare heart condition known as Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. The condition, if left untreated, can be fatal. In this case, it was.
The physician in charge of clearing the baseball player noted the abnormalities on his reading but eventually ruled that he was cleared to play baseball with the team. The 23-year-old died of a heart attack in his hotel room in New Zealand while playing in a fall development league.
WPW is a rhythm disorder of the heart. The ECG revealed obvious signs of the disorder. Whoever analyzed the reading wrote “WPW” and “run further tests before permitting physical activity” on the chart. The doctor who reviewed the chart determined that the ECG showed a “normal variation” and allowed the ballplayer to continue playing. WPW is a correctable disorder. Had the ballplayer been guided to seek therapy for the condition prior to engaging in physically strenuous activity, there is little doubt that he would still be alive.
The team and their doctor have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but it appears unlikely their motion to dismiss will be granted. In this article, we’ll take a look at why the doctor’s defense is in trouble.
Analyzing possible defenses to these claims
The doctor really needs to be able to prove that he was right to clear the ballplayer and something other than WPW Syndrome caused his death. If the doctor can prove that, which appears highly unlikely, then the plaintiffs will not have a case to pursue. The plaintiff’s case is built on the misdiagnosis of WPW Syndrome which later caused the death of the ballplayer. In this case, the correct diagnosis was submitted to the doctor who probably said something along the lines of, “It’s probably not WPW because WPW is too rare.” It’s rare enough to be an unlikely diagnosis in most situations, but in this case, the doctor interpreting the ECG noted clear signs of the disorder in his ECG. The doctor who cleared the ballplayer for strenuous activity countermanded the findings of the technician interpreting the scan.
Because they had the correct diagnosis and did not act on it, it becomes exceedingly difficult for the doctor to claim that the condition is “too rare” to consider. In fact, “too rare” defenses generally don’t hold much merit in medical malpractice lawsuits. Chances are good the ballplayer’s family walks away with a jury verdict.
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