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Actor's death highlights dangers of undiagnosed conditions

Even if they didn't know his name, many American movie lovers were familiar with the face of actor Bill Paxton. Known for appearing in such blockbusters as "Titanic," "Twister" and "Aliens," Paxton did not always have the lead role, but often left a lasting impression. The recent news of his death came as a shock.

According to news reports, Paxton died after complications from surgery. While no official cause of death had been reported as of this writing, some media outlets reported that the surgery was intended to repair a problem with Paxton's heart valves.

In an interview recorded shortly before his death, Paxton spoke about a health problem he suffered as a child which may have affected his heart valves.During a podcast with Marc Maron which aired on February 6, Paxton talked about being diagnosed with rheumatic fever while he was in the seventh grade. Paxton went on to say that the fever developed following an undiagnosed and untreated strep throat, which also has the potential to damage one's heart valves.

As yet, there have been no reports to indicate that Paxton's death was the result of any negligence during his surgery, nor that his undiagnosed illness was connected to the surgery. However, it does shed light on the risks that can come from an undiagnosed condition.

Some medical malpractice cases are based on the premise that a medical professional's failure to diagnose a patient's condition led to a worsened condition. The theory behind these cases holds that, had the doctor provided care that was up to professional standards, he or she would have diagnosed the condition and began treatment. Since the condition was not diagnosed, the condition progressed and the patient suffered as a result. The measure of damages in such cases is based on the extent that the condition was worsened by the failure to diagnose and treat it in a timely manner.

Medical malpractice cases are notoriously complicated. The injured or their family members can speak to an experienced medical malpractice attorney to learn about their legal options.

Source: Forbes, "Actor Bill Paxton's Death Prompts Thoughts About Surgery Risks," By Rita Rubin, Accessed Feb. 28, 2017

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