If a nurse caused my cellulitis, can I sue?

About 6 months ago, I was admitted into a hospital for stomach pains. In the ER the nurse who started my IV did not practice good clean care by opening her glove and touching my skin with her finger; she did not wash her hands nor did she use any type of alcohol wipe to clean her finger. After being in the hospital for not even one day I awoke to severe pain in my hand where the IV was located. Hours later I had swelling and pain. I noted to the nurse that I was in a lot of pain in my hand and the IV must be the cause of it but she said it wan not the IV. I would cry out with more pain as they continued to push fluids through my IV. I found out it was cellulitis from an IV infection.

Asked on October 19, 2014 under Malpractice Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Two issues:

1) You have to PROVE the nurse gave you cellulitis--you can't just rely on it being logical or reasonable due to her lack of safety or hygiene precautions, but rather would need something like an expert opinion from a doctor who examined you as to the cause. This, of course, can be expensive--medical experts do not work cheap.

2) Second, you say you were in extreme pain, but:

a) did you need expensive additional medical care due to the cellulitis?

b) did you miss a significant amount of work or income due to the cellulitis?

c) did your pain last  for several weeks at a minimum?

The problem is, you can only recover compensation related to you actual out-of-pocket (not paid by insurance) costs, lost income, and for conditions causing significant life impairment for a reasonbly long length of time, some amount of pain and suffering. If these amounts are not large, you could spend more on the lawsuit then you would recover.


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