12-Year-Old Dies After Infection Misdiagnosed as Flu

Family members of a deceased 12-year-old girl say her death was the result of doctors misdiagnosing her with the flu when she was actually suffering from an infection.

About the Misdiagnosis and Resulting Death

According to WCVB, Alyssa Alcaraz, 12, died on December 17; it was not until after her death that her family learned what was actually causing her to be sick.

Alcaraz’s family says her illness was initially marked by her throwing up and displaying symptoms similar to food poisoning. However, during a trip to the doctor, Alcaraz was diagnosed with the flu and sent home.

After a few days of missing school, Alcaraz’s condition did not improve and she was admitted to urgent care where doctors noted low oxygen levels. She was then rushed to Kaweah Delta Medical Center.

Within hours of arriving, Alcaraz’s organs began to shut down and she was pronounced dead soon after. Her death certificate noted that she went into cardiac arrest and septic shock from a strep blood infection.

Medical Malpractice and Misdiagnosis Statistics

According to the BMJ, medical errors result in 251,454 deaths every year, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. Even when not fatal, medical errors can result in a life-time of pain and disability.

It is important to note, not all medical errors will result in a medical malpractice claim. In fact, medical malpractice requires that plaintiffs prove:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed
  • The doctor was negligent in their diagnosis or treatment
  • The doctor’s negligence was the cause of the injury claimed
  • The injury claimed led to specific damages

Common forms of medical malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Childbirth injuries
  • Medication errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Surgery errors
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