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Widow, young children to receive medical malpractice settlement

He was just 32 years old when he went to a rural health center with a sore throat. The maintenance mechanic had gone into work that day, but was sent to see a doctor by his employer. That was three years ago. "He never came home," his widow said.

A few days ago, the medical malpractice attorney representing the widow and the couple's children announced that they had reached a $4.2 million settlement with the federal government, which insured the nonprofit community health center.

At the news conference announcing the settlement, the widow recalled the shock she felt when she was told that her husband and the father of her three young boys had died. "He just had a sore throat," she said to the center's workers. "What do you mean he passed?"

The young dad had gone to Hawaii's Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center with a sore throat, but the examining doctor determined there was an abscess in his tonsils. The doctor decided to do a further evaluation of the man under sedation.

Unfortunately, there was no anesthesiologist present and the doctor administered too much sedative. The patient, who weighed nearly 300 pounds, never regained consciousness.

The health center made some changes to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring there again. The widow said she doesn't "hate or judge" the staff, but she hopes that they will "make everything better for other families."

That desire is what so many families want when they see their loved ones harmed by a negligent doctor. They want the hospital or health center to make changes so that no more senseless deaths happen to others.

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