Under malpractice law, would my father’s medical provider be negligent if it failed to consider all of his pre-existing health issues when treating him?

My father recently had 2 knee surgeries and due to the broad spectrum antibiotics they gave him he developed a worst case scenario C-diff infection. He came home and than went back to the hospital. They sent him home again but he was back in the hospital within days. So, they finally did tests that determined that the C-diff was a lot worse then they thought it was but there were not any other ailments to worry about. However we later got a call in the wee hours of the next morning and we were told that a nurse went into his room and he was not breathing. He had a erratic heart beat but they were able to revive him and moved him to the ICU. I have asked several times if they had determined why he coded and am told that is was not a heart attack, beyond that they apparently have no idea. Here is my dilemma – the nurses do rounds every 2 hours which is just fine for some patients I suppose. Yet, my father just recently had 2 knee surgeries, was battling a C-diff infection, uses a cpap and oxyegen at night and has COPD. These things individually are bad enough. All of them at the same time is another thing altogether. Given his medical history he should have been checked on at least once every 60 minutes? Also, considering the stress that a major surgery causes on the body, his COPD should have been taken into consideration and he should have been hooked up to a heart monitor at least. Instead, no one knows how long he was not breathing. I’ve known someone else with COPD and anytime they were in the hospital they were always hooked up to a heart monitor. I know that sometimes things happen but if they had done their due diligence, he may have still coded but they would have known about it as soon as it happened and things would not be as bad as they are. Also, I’ve worked in several facilities and have spent a good amount of time in hospitals. One thing that they had in common is the fact that the nurses walked the floor even when they were not doing rounds. The hospital my father is in now is the only one I have been in where the SOP for most of the nurses I have seen is essentially do your rounds and than immediately return to the nurses station to lounge and have a bull session until you are forced to do your rounds again. In closing I reiterate that if he had been handled appropriately things would not be as bad as they are.

Asked on February 17, 2016 under Malpractice Law, Minnesota

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Medical malpractice is negligence.  Negligence on the part of the hospital is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable hospital would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).
It would be advisable to have your father's medical records reviewed by a doctor not affiliated with the hospital in question.  If that doctor writes a report that would support a malpractice claim based on the negligence of the hospital, proceed with the malpractice claim.
Prior to filing a lawsuit for negligence against the hospital (assuming there is a supportive report from the outside doctor), it may be possible to settle the case with the hospital's insurance carrier.  Your father's claim filed with the hospital's insurance carrier should include his medical bills from the hospital, medical records and the report of the outside doctor.
If the case is settled with the hospital's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the hospital's insurance company, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the hospital.
If the case is NOT settled with the hospital's insurance company, your father's lawsuit for negligence must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or your father will lose his rights forever in the matter.


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