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Man Sues Hospital for Failed Diagnosis and False Ads

Having to go to the hospital is not something people look forward to. It typically is done with a doctor’s direction and with some forethought as to what the problem is and what treatment will be delivered. If the problem that you’re experiencing is an emergency, chances are you don’t even give a lot of thought about what hospital you go to. You want the one that’s closest.

But in recent years, hospitals in some markets have taken to advertising their ER services with an eye toward increasing their profits from that particular area of practice. The prevalence of such advertising varies by state. Where it is used, as one might expect, the ads often include language touting top quality care.

It’s the use of that kind of language by one Louisville hospital that is now the basis of a lawsuit. In addition to alleging false advertising, the plaintiff in the case is claiming that he potentially faces a lifetime of health problems because of a nurse practitioner’s failure to diagnose what was really wrong with him.

According to the suit, the man says that when he suffered a sudden bout of severe stomach pain in 2012, he decided to take himself to this particular hospital ER. He says he did because he remembered ads that touted that it delivered not just emergency care, but “remarkable care.”

At the hospital, the man was examined by a nurse practitioner, rather than a doctor. And he claims she failed to spot that he had a potentially deadly form of intestinal infection. She sent him home with a prescription for antibiotics, but two days later he was back at the hospital and had to undergo emergency surgery for a perforated bowel.

The suit claims the man faces more surgeries and increased risks of more bowel problems as a result of what happened to him. The man’s suit names the nurse practitioner, alleging failure to diagnose. But it also accuses the hospital of misleading advertising under Kentucky consumer protection law.

Some legal observers call the suit’s legal theory a novel one, but not unprecedented.

Source: The Courier-Journal, “Patient sues Norton over ads and malpractice,” Andrew Wolfson, Aug. 19, 2014