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Mistaken identity can lead to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania

Horror stories about the wrong patient being anesthetized and wheeled into surgery, only to be operated on before the mistake has been realized, abound in pop culture. With the precautions that hospitals, physicians and other healthcare facilities take these days to confirm identities, mistaken identity is far less common than it once was. But, it does still occur. And, when it does, healthcare professionals could find themselves on the wrong end of a medical malpractice or negligence claim.

A rather extreme example of mistaken identity occurred recently in Western Pennsylvania. Police were called when a man at the office of an orthopedic physician made threats about hurting himself and others. Police went to the home of the plaintiff in the malpractice case — who shares the same first and last name as the orthopedic patient — handcuffed him and took the plaintiff to the hospital over his protests that they had the wrong person.

At the hospital, over the plaintiff’s continued objections, a doctor order that the plaintiff be injected with an anti-psychotic drug, as well as medication for anxiety disorder. At no point did anyone attempt to verify the plaintiff’s identity.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the hospital, the police department and several individuals in federal court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The case appears to be near settlement.

If one has suffered an injury or contracted an illness due to the actions of a health care professional, they may be entitled for compensation for their injuries and the costs of any subsequent corrective procedures. Nonetheless, a medical malpractice case can be a major undertaking that involves considerable investigation and consultation with experts. For this reason, it is wise for medical malpractice victims to seek the advice of an attorney with extensive experience litigating these types of cases.

Source: Meadville Tribune, “Lawsuit settled for Meadville man who says he was misidentified, drugged,” Keith Gushard, May 8, 2018