The coma is a medical condition in which the patient is nonresponsive to light, pain, or sound in a normal manner, and cannot be awakened. It is a deep and often prolonged form of unconsciousness. Individuals in comas are nonresponsive to external stimuli such as a prick on the hand, light shined in their eyes, or a loud sound. In some cases, a, patient may make movements, sounds, or even speak, but these actions are not voluntary. Typically, comas last no more than several weeks. If a coma persists beyond this period of time, it may result in a long-term vegetative state or even death.
Comas can result from a number of different acts of medical negligence, including:
- Failure to diagnose or treat a medical condition. Failure to treat high blood pressure can result in a stroke, which may lead to a coma when the brain does not receive sufficient oxygen-rich blood to function properly. Also, the failure to treat diabetes may result in a coma. When a diabetic person’s blood pressure is elevated, he or she may enter into a coma. High blood pressure is the natural result when diabetes is left untreated.
- Failure to monitor a patient’s condition. If a doctor or other medical professional fails to monitor a patient during a surgical procedure, that patient may suffer a lack of oxygen that could lead to a coma.
- Medication errors. Patients who are given an overdose of certain medications may suffer a coma. If a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional prescribes an excessive dosage of a drug, the provider may be liable for medical malpractice if the individual enters into a coma as a result.
- Surgery or anesthesia errors. Certain surgical errors may prevent the brain from receiving enough oxygen or blood, resulting in a coma. An excessive dosage of anesthesia may also lead to coma.
A doctor who is liable for an individual falling into a comatose condition may be held responsible for his or her negligence and error through a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice occurs when the doctor or other medical professional fails to apply a level of care that would be reasonably expected from a prudent medical professional to apply under the same or similar circumstances, and which results in injury to the patient.
If a comatose patient remains in this condition for a lengthy period of time, the family of the patient may have to consider the financial costs for treatment and support. Patients in this condition often require around-the-clock medical care. The financial and emotional burden upon family members in these cases is often extremely challenging. The damages a family of the comatose patient may pursue in these situations include hospital stay expenses, life support costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other treatment costs.
If you believe the coma suffered by your loved one was initiated as a result of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to significant compensation.