Emergency Department to Death. What in the World Happened?
Your Plaintiff Wants Answers!
Your plaintiff is filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Her 68 year old dad died 9pm Dec 31st, after presenting to emergency 3am Dec 30th. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, pleural effusion, anemia, and emphysema. He was not admitted to the hospital until 1pm Dec 31st. Plaintiff asked staff why the delay.
They explained that they were going to put her dad in ICU, but he improved so he did not need ICU. On Dec 31st, 12pm, the plaintiff returned to find her dad transferred to the cardiac care unit. His heart had started racing. He also developed mental confusion. Plaintiff met with her dad’s doctor at 1pm. The doctor told her of complicating factors discovered on CT scan. He reassured her that her dad would be released Monday, and follow up in 4 weeks. He was on an oxygen nasal cannula, but was still having trouble breathing.
Was this catastrophe medical malpractice?
Plaintiff recalls her dad’s nurse as very inattentive. The plaintiff constantly had to find the nurse because her dad’s oxygen saturation level dropped to the low to mid 80’s, but mostly around 82, 83, 84 with an occasional drop to 80 or jump to 90. Plaintiff was the one who kept checking it with the portable pulse oximeter they brought to the room because the nurse was nowhere to be found.
After plaintiff’s request for additional help for her dad, a respiratory therapist did a breathing treatment, which caused his heart to race even more, and placed a face mask on him. That only helped for a short time, and plaintiff again requested help. The same therapist returned, changed his mask and increased his oxygen from 40% to 100%.
He continued to have low oxygen levels, but this time they dropped to 75-77. A 3rd visit from a respiratory therapist was requested. She did another breathing treatment with a different medicine that was not supposed to affect his heart. Again, the therapist left immediately and said she would see them in 4 hours. That treatment helped for a short time.
The nursing shift changed at 7pm. After that, his nurse never came into the room on her own again. Plaintiff had to repeatedly push the call button or go find her at the nurses’ station. Plaintiff asked for the nurse to get her dad some liquid nutrition because he could not breathe well enough to eat for the past 24 hours. The nurse told plaintiff “he can go a lot longer than 24 hours–that is dietary and they aren’t here–it is New Year’s Eve”.
At 7:30 things really took a terrible turn in her dad’s condition and breathing. Plaintiff screamed for his nurse, and two nurses (plaintiff stated – “not her dad’s though”) came to help. Plaintiff asked why he was not being intubated and one nurse said, “we aren’t at that point yet.”
Plaintiff’s poor dad was so scared this whole day and now he looked at his daughter and said, “I’m dying.” Plaintiff watched in horror as her dad took his last gasping breath and the nurse said “we don’t have a pulse”. They whisked plaintiff away as they worked on her dad with the crash team.
Your plaintiff reports a 3rd respiratory therapist “who seemed totally and utterly disgusted with the lack of care her dad had gotten” and “was troubled as to why an arterial blood gas test had not been done”. The crash team “got him back” and took him to the ICU where he again coded and died.
Devoted Daughter Devastated After Death of Father
Plaintiff states, “I can’t begin to tell you how horrifying an experience this was for my poor dad and me. I need to try to find some peace with this one way or another. Of course, there are many more details and reasons I think someone (or more than just one) really blew it, but mainly, after doing some research I found that oxygen saturation levels that my dad was experiencing is considered respiratory failure and based on that and his other conditions he should have been put in ICU and intubated. Of course, I am no doctor, but I believe he was left lying there in respiratory failure which ultimately led to his cardiac arrest and death. “
Might Look Like a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Medical records tell the story. You see if there was professional negligence or simply an unavoidable outcome.
This was a catastrophe. But, what really happened? Was there a pulmonologist on the case? Was there a cardiologist on the case? What was the patient’s medical history? How sick was he on arrival to the ED? What tests were performed? What was the census in the hospital? What was the nurse to patient ratio? Should you go forward with a medical malpractice lawsuit?
If you are the attorney working on this case, a legal nurse consultant (LNC) should be one of the first professionals consulted. LNC services can help attorneys remove the potential of unsuccessful trial results, by recognition and understanding of critical health related matters.
While the LNC develops those health-related matters in the case, the legal staff can devote their time and resources to the legal related matters in the case. The LNC translates the medical records, then creates a succinct chronology highlighting critical events.
An LNC delivers a professional report with medical research, definitions and a summary of the client’s illnesses, treatments and outcomes. An LNC is readily available, accessible, and generally has more time to devote to your case than a physician.
Contracting these services from an LNC saves time, is more cost effective, and will lead to a more detailed and comprehensive examination of the merits of a case. With their clinical training, an LNC can effectively and efficiently aid your trial team.