No one wants to end up in the emergency room – a place that is often known for long wait times and crowded waiting rooms. But going to the emergency room is even worse when you are in extreme pain and have no idea why your body is feeling the way that it is.
The nurses and doctors in ER’s are supposed to do everything they can to make sure patients are correctly diagnosed and cared for. If the care that is required is beyond what they can provide, the patient should be moved to the correct department so that they can receive that care. Unfortunately, through misdiagnosis, sometimes patients aren’t moved to the correct department and they suffer serious harm as a result.
Brooklyn Woman Loses Most Of Her Small Bowel
In 2008, a then 49-year-old woman began to experience extreme pain in her abdomen. The pain was bad enough that she made the decision to go to the Lutheran Medical Center ER. The first time she arrived, doctors diagnosed her with gastritis, a condition which causes the inflammation of the lining of the stomach. Although painful, gastritis isn’t life threatening so the doctor provided her with medication and discharged her.
But the pain didn’t stop.
She returned to the ER a second time and was told once again that she had gastritis and discharged despite the fact that she was given a surgical consult. Once home, the pain became debilitating so for the third time, she went to the ER. That’s when she was finally diagnosed with the correct medical condition: mesenteric ischemia.
Mesenteric ischemia is when the blood supply to the small bowel is greatly reduced or cut off entirely and if blood flow isn’t restored quickly the small bowel will begin to die and become gangrenous.
After the correct diagnosis was finally made she was rushed into surgery where the surgeons did what they could to repair the bowl but the damage was already done. Since that initial surgery, she has had to undergo a total of 25 operations and has lost the majority of her small bowel resulting in short bowel syndrome. This condition means that for the rest of her life she has a limited diet, has to defecate almost immediately after eating, and has scarring across her entire abdomen. Her entire way of life has changed due to her health issues which is why she chose to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Med Mal Lawsuit Filed Against Hospital & Surgeon
The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Lutheran Medical Center and the surgeon who performed the initial consultation during her second trip to the ER alleging that if her mesenteric ischemia had been diagnosed on the first visit the medical condition wouldn’t have progressed and she wouldn’t have lost the majority of her small bowel. She also alleged that the surgeon failed to correctly read an abdominal CT and interpret the bloodwork that was available.
Prior to trial, the hospital settled with the plaintiff for an undisclosed amount, however, the surgeon decided to fight the allegations in court. At the end of the trial, the jury sided with the plaintiff and awarded her $18.2 million – $7 million for past pain and suffering, $10 million for expected future pain and suffering, and $1.2 million for her past medical expenses.
Sadly, situations like this one are not uncommon in New York, a state which all on its own accounts for almost a quarter of all medical malpractice lawsuits in the entire U.S.
How Do I Know If Medical Malpractice Occurred?
This can be a very difficult question to answer. Sometimes, like in the case above, it’s fairly obvious that a doctor or other medical professional has made a mistake. However, in many cases, the patient only has a sense that sometime is wrong and is unsure of how to proceed.
The best way to determine if you have a medical malpractice case it to consult with an experienced attorney who can review the medical records and identify any issues.
Will My Case Go To Trial?
It is impossible to determine which cases will go to trial and which will not, however, the majority of claims are settled out of court. The decision to settle is based on several things, such as:
- If an offer to settle is even made.
- If the offer that is received is appropriate and will cover all losses sustained by the plaintiff.
Ultimately, the decision is entirely in the client’s hands but you can rest easy knowing that our firm will thoroughly discuss all options with you.
I Signed A Consent Form – Will This Impact My Case?
Consent forms simply give a physician permission to proceed with a particular course of treatment, it does not protect them if they make a mistake during the diagnosis or the treatment.