Injuries caused by missed or delayed diagnoses are relatively common in medical malpractice cases. Diagnostic errors occur every day in Canada; most are relatively harmless, but some have life-threatening consequences. Recently, the Toronto Star reported on the case of Leah Battista, a 20-year-old Queen’s University student who passed away in 2017 following successive missed diagnoses at Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

When a medical error causes a serious injury or death, a medical malpractice lawyer can help the patient and/or the patient’s family secure financial compensation for these damages. Or, in cases like Leah’s, a malpractice lawsuit can help shine light on weaknesses in the Canadian healthcare system and force at-fault parties to take responsibility for their actions.

Missed Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosis

 Leah first visited the emergency room at Kingston Health Sciences Centre on October 27, 2017, because she was unable to take deep breaths without significant pain. Doctors took x-rays, which showed nothing unusual, and sent her home with painkillers. She returned to the ER when her condition didn’t improve, and was once again sent home, this time with a Ventolin inhaler. After a brief period of improvement, she was soon entirely unable to breath. She was rushed back to the hospital in an ambulance and suffered a heart attack en route. She died after five days in a coma.

The cause of Leah’s death was a “massive pulmonary embolism” – the blockage of a major artery by a blood clot. The coroner’s report found that ‘doctors did not follow widely accepted clinical guidelines for screening for pulmonary embolism,’ according to the Star. It recommended that the hospital conduct a “Quality of Care” review and identify opportunities to improve care.

Pulmonary embolism is notoriously difficult to diagnose, in part because its symptoms are similar to those of other minor conditions, and also because certain diagnostic processes are risky and unreliable. However, Leah’s parents, Paul Battista and Cheryl Smith, and their medical malpractice lawyer are alleging in a lawsuit that Leah’s care team should have been able to confirm a diagnosis.

Lawsuit Not About Money

 While Battista and Smith have every right to pursue financial compensation from Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Leah’s care team, the goal of their lawsuit is to improve accountability and promote change. Battista and Smith told the Star that the hospital has been uncooperative and unresponsive since Leah’s death. It did not express condolences or involve them in the internal review recommended in the coroner’s report.

“If we had seen a process where there was true accountability … and an openness and willingness to learn from this catastrophe, then we would have totally taken a different tack,” Battista said in the article.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

 If you or a member of your family has been injured in a medical setting, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Our team will be happy to discuss your case and provide guidance as you consider your options for recovery.

Greg Neinstein

Greg Neinstein, B.A. LLB., is the Managing Partner at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers LLP. His practice focuses on serious injury and complex insurance claims, including motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall injuries, long-term disability claims and insurance claims. Greg has extensive mediation and trial experience and has a reputation among his colleagues as a skillful negotiator.
Greg Neinstein