What to do if my mother was taken to hospital by ambulance and ended up with a severe infection in her arm and is in hospital being treated for it?

It was not a life or death situation. The ambulance attendant ran out of right size needle and had to use much larger one. She actually had puncture would in arm. She is 90 and until this happened she was working full time. I don’t know what to do. To compound the matter, when she was dismissed from the hospital they did not treat wound and told her to see her own doctor when she got home.

Asked on October 2, 2013 under Personal Injury, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

It is not malpractice everytime a patieent has a bad outcome; medicine is not perfect or malpractice. What you describe would only be malpractice is one or all of the following were true:

1) It would have been unreasonably careless to have run out of the right-size needles (which is certainly possible);

2) Having run out of the right size needle, it was unreasonably careless to use a larger needle (unlikely--using the bigger needle was most likely a reasonable choice under the circumstances); and/or

3) It was unreasonably careless to send your mother home to see her own doctor about the wound (possibly).

In addition, you'd have to show that using the larger-size needle and/or sending her home rather than treating the wound caused the infection, since there must be a causal link between the suspected malpractice and the bad outcome.

If there was malpractice, your mother could potentially recover medical costs; lost wages (if she missed work or stopped working); and possibly some pain and suffering. You may wish to consult with malpractice counsel to evaluate the situation in detail.


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