Visitor Question

Mother Died From Plural Effusion…

Submitted By: Rita (Cheyenne, WY, USA)

My mother went in for a simple gall bladder surgery. During the procedure the surgeon found cirrhosis and said her liver was bad. Honestly the doctors were not that concerned because a person could live for a long time with this condition.

The diagnosis was puzzling to us because she was not a drinker. A liver specialist did several tests to determine how she could have gotten this and came up with conclusion that she must have had an undiagnosed autoimmune disorder that she didn’t know about, but never said what autoimmune disorder she may have had.

Anyway she never got better and kept complaining of shortness of breath. Several trips to the doctor later and all he kept saying was that it was anxiety and kept giving her prescriptions for meds and a steroid inhaler. After a lung function test determined that she was only at a 50 0/0 lung capacity, he scheduled an appointment with a pulmonary specialist 2 weeks later.

Well the day after Christmas she could she could not breathe and went to the emergency room. An X-ray in the ER showed fluid around her lung (plural effusion). They kept draining it but it was depleting her body of necessary fluids. She had talc placed to block the hole so the fluid would not build up in the area between the lung and diaphragm, but unfortunately she got worse and died.

I’ve been wondering, if she had had an X-ray in October when she began complaining of shortness of breath would it have changed the outcome? Shouldn’t the doctor have ordered this? Does this constitute medical malpractice or wrongful death? She had surgery in August for the gall bladder removal and was dead February 25. Thanks for any information you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Rita,

Having an x-ray in October may have detected your mother’s underlying health problem. The decision was one made by a physician based on the information she had. Whether the decision was a sound one is difficult to determine.

From the limited facts you present it’s quite difficult to determine if medical malpractice was committed. To make a qualified decision on the issue of malpractice will require a complete study of your mother’s medical charts, including her initial diagnosis and prognosis, the background and experience of the diagnosing physician, and the plausibility of an early diagnosis.

When it comes to these types of claims only experienced attorneys can determine if medical malpractice occurred. They can hire medical experts to review all the case information. Your best bet will be to sit down with several lawyers and discuss your mother’s case. Fortunately, most medical malpractice personal injury attorneys don’t charge a fee for an initial office consultation. It would be in your best interest to seek legal advice promptly.

Learn more here: Medical Malpractice & Hospital Deaths

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck!


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