A jury has ordered a doctor to pay $2.6 million to a child who was 4 years old when his 29-year-old father died in 2014 from what the panel concluded was medical negligence in failing to diagnose and treat the man for pneumonia.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury reached the verdict Wednesday in the trial of the suit brought on behalf of the son of the late Donte Snow Sr. against Dr. Dennis Dasher. The suit also named other defendants, but dispositions were reached with those parties before trial. Lawyers for all the defendants maintained the treatment of Snow was within the proper standard of medical care.
Snow died Aug. 1, 2014, from undiagnosed pneumonia and related empyema, which is pus located in the pleural space between the lung and chest wall, the suit stated.
Snow’s long-term, live-in girlfriend returned from a visit to a park with the couple’s son — the plaintiff — and found Snow dead on the floor of their apartment, the suit states. She called 911 and both she and paramedics tried in vain to resuscitate her boyfriend, but it was too late, according to the suit filed in September 2015.
The death could have been prevented had the multiple doctors Snow sought treatment from in the days before his death provided a correct assessment and accurately found that he had pneumonia, which was not diagnosed until the Los Angeles County coroner’s office performed an autopsy, the suit stated.
“The defendant doctors who decedent sought help from were in the best possible position to save his life and failed to do so,” the suit stated.
Snow went to a hospital emergency room on July 28, 2014, complaining of right-sided neck pain radiating down his right shoulder into his right rear ribcage, made worse with deep breathing, the suit states. He was sent home with muscle relaxers and received no treatment for any manner of infection, according to the suit.
The day prior to his death, Snow sought treatment for his ongoing medical complaints from Dasher, his longtime primary care physician, the suit stated. Snow’s pain had left his shoulder area and was now present in his lower back, still indicative of possible pneumonia, the suit stated.
Dasher performed an “entirely inaccurate lung examination which showed that (Snow’s) lungs were clear of congestion,” a medically impossible finding given the volume of fluid and the empyema present in Snow’s lungs at the time of death the following day, the suit stated.
Dasher failed to check Snow’s blood glucose level or obtain his medical records from the hospital visit, which would have shown Snow’s abnormal bloodwork, the suit stated. Dasher instead released Snow with a diagnosis of low back strain and tachycardia as well as prescriptions for a pain reliever and constipation, the suit stated.
“(Snow) did everything he possibly could have to save his own life,” the suit stated. “Even an immunocompromised diabetic at 29 years old should not die from pneumonia after receiving medical treatment twice in the four days before his death.”