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Did the Movie Star Have to Die?

By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Aug 13, 2018

Heart Surgery May Have Caused Movie Star Death

Bill Paxton was well-known as an actor in TV and films, starring in such blockbusters as Apollo 13, Twister, and Titanic. The news of his tragic death did not go into much detail when he passed in 2017, though there was some mention that he died after suffering a stroke due to complications from heart surgery. Paxton’s passing was back in the news recently, specifically in a CBS News report, as his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit based upon medical malpractice. The claim is that his death should not have happened, and only occurred because of a surgeon’s bad judgment. Being in the early stages of litigation, it is too soon to determine the exact details of the case and whether the family will recover compensation for medical malpractice. However, the claim may hinge on what a plaintiff must prove in these types of claims.

Plaintiff’s Burden in a Medical Malpractice Case

A claimant must prove that the healthcare professional did not exercise reasonable care in providing treatment, which basically means the doctor did something wrong. Generally, a physician must approach the patient’s medical issue with the same degree of care and skill that a reasonably prudent provider would under similar circumstances.

In the Paxton wrongful death lawsuit, the family claims that the surgeon who operated on him lacked experience in the procedure, which was intended to repair an aortic aneurysm. As proof of the failure to exercise reasonable care, the plaintiffs claim that the doctor performed a risky, unconventional surgery to alleviating Paxton’s medical condition. They may prevail if they meet their burden by showing that another doctor, possessing the same skills and faced with the same situation, would not have taken this approach.

Factors Related to Standard of Care for Medical Malpractice

Paxton’s family also must prove that there is a direct link between his death and the surgeon’s conduct. The fact that he suffered a stroke and died 11 days after the procedure is not enough; the plaintiffs must show that the provider’s decisions and actions regarding surgery actually caused his death.

Establishing this causation element can be a challenge in medical malpractice cases because it usually requires high level expertise in the relevant medical field. Attorneys that pursue medical malpractice claims usually retain the services of medical experts to assist them, both as consultants and as testifying experts. Medical experts are especially useful in the courtroom to explain extremely technical concepts and help members of the jury understand causation factors.

Schedule a Consultation with a Knowledgeable Attorney

Deviation from the standard of care and causation are the toughest elements you must prove in a medical malpractice case. Though personal injury claims based upon negligence are similar, it is critical to retain a lawyer that has specific experience pursuing claims for medical mistakes. If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to a healthcare provider’s error, please contact the offices of Cohen, Placitella & Roth to schedule a free consultation. Our Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys can review your circumstances and tell you more about your legal options.

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