The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark search twitter facebook feed linkedin instagram google-plus avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close
Skip to main content

In the unexpected death of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) there may lie the seeds of a wrongful death lawsuit, as well as pointed questions about the safety of our health care system. Over 100,000 people die every year in hospitals around the country as a result of preventable medical errors. Was Rep. Murtha that latest example of this extraordinary statistic?

Murtha had elective laparoscopic gallbladder surgery and later succumbed to an infection related to the operation. He evidently spent time in intensive care, as the infection was widespread and vital organs were in distress. Mortality rates for gallbladder surgery are 0.7% to 2%. What happened here? Was Murtha just "unlucky" or did he die from medical error or omission? For example, were IV antibiotics given when the surgeon started the incision? Once more facts come to light, his family should be in a better position to decide whether to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

Given the nature of this situation, a possible wrongful death involving medical error or medical malpractice, it may be a long time before the case goes to court and/or culminates in a settlement or award. Victims in situations similar to Mr. Murtha’s family will be interested to know that litigation funding may be available to help them cope with paying important bills. No one has limitless financial strength; injury victims and/or surviving family members may qualify for a lawsuit cash advance against their case while they wait for it to be settled.

Lawsuit funding should be used sparingly and wisely; it should be used to pay for life’s necessities such as food, medical bills, mortgage payments and other important daily expenses that become difficult due to serious injury, disability or death. Medical Malpractice lawsuit funding assistance allows a victims and his/her family to wait for a fair settlement, without the financial pressure to settle too early for too little.


  1. Gravatar for Jim O'Hare AIC AIS VP med mal claimsj
    Jim O'Hare AIC AIS VP med mal claimsj

    A 2 % risk is a 2% risk. Isnt it? 2 out of 100 do not make it. I guess rep. Murtha fell w/in that small group- RIP to an American hero.

    Pretty sure that a trocar went a tad deep nicking the bowel. This surgery has been keeping me busy over the past 2 years.

    This is an informed consent issue. The risks must have been told to him by the surgeon ,and an additional consent from the anesthsiologist. I am sure both physicians mention death. Nobody wants to be in that 2 %, but it isnt invisable. This is only an acceptable risk if you are not in that 2%, otherwise, somebody must have done something wrong. Isnt that the common thought?

    Is an error malpractice? if so , all the times? Does a bad outcome signal an error, therefore malpractice? The answer is a resounding no, however, a deviation from accepted medical practice, that caused the damage is a malpractice.

    Certainly there could be med mal after investigation. This is a prominent American with extreme damages and if there is a policy available, suit will follow. Let us see what happens.

    regards Jim

  2. Actually Jim, the answer to 'does a bad outcome signal an error, therefore malpractice' question is a resounding "maybe". It is not "no". You are correct the same incident requires a deviation from the standard of care. Yes, there will be an investigation; there may even be a lawsuit. And that, my friend, is how these "bad outcomes" are reviewed. Regards, Mark

Comments are closed.