can we sue a hospital that mistreated my dad and now he is a worse situation than when he went in.

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can we sue a hospital that mistreated my dad and now he is a worse situation than when he went in.

I am not sure where to start so I will start from day one. My dad was having pain in his wrist that we believe may be from a gout flare up. He was in a lot of pain and his arm was swelling so we went to the ER. At the ER they found that his potassium was high and his kidneys were not doing so well. They sent him to another hospital to have that evaluated. They never really gave him anything for the pain. This was the day before Christmas Eve at about 8pm.
The next morning we went to the hospital to see him and he was still in so much pain. The kind of pain that he was crying and whining very loud. He would once in a while yell out in pain and say help me, please help me. When we asked the nurse after waiting 10 mins from the time we pushed the button she said that he was given nothing for pain and didn’t plan to. They claim that they didn’t want his stats to drop but they have never done that before. He has been given dilaudid pain medication before when his stats were a lot lower.
We called the social worker on call to let them know we were not happy with his treatment because every time we pushed a button for the nurse it took over 10 mins to get help. After calling the social worker all of a sudden it was ok to start some pain meds. They started with Tylenol, which in my opinion was not what they should do because that is for mild pain not screaming pain. We went home and the next day we came in they had his door shut because he was still yelling in pain. We then complained to the doctor and he then gave him small does of morphine and then Percocet then because it wasn’t helping they gave him I morphine and dilaudid in an alternating fashion.
At this point he hadn’t eaten in like 3 days because of the pain. Then the next day he seemed to be ok so they thought about sending him home. But, when he woke up the next day his neck was swelling and it kept swelling and they didn’t know why. They started him on an antibiotic but the swelling got so bad they had to take him to get a CT done but he stopped breathing. This turned into a situation where he was put on a ventilator.
After being transferred to the VA in Buffalo and we talked to an ENT we found out that do to the lack of eating and drinking he got an infection in his gland which started this spiral where now he has a trachea and is still in a bad situation. This is putting a strain on their finances and my mom’s health from the stress she has gone through. We aren’t really sure what our rights are but we feel that if they had done something about the pain and not ignore him that first day he may have been ok and not gone so long without food and water. He would not have gotten the infection which would have then avoided the ventilator and trachea situation we are in now.

Asked on January 29, 2017 under Malpractice Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You write that "We aren't really sure what our rights are but we feel that if they had done something about the pain and not ignore him that first day he may have been OK and not gone so long without food and water. He would not have gotten the infection which would have then avoided the ventilator and trachea situation we are in now." The first thing to do is to find out if your "feelings" are accurate and supported by medical opinion--if they are not, there is nothing you can do legally,  since a layperson's "feelings" are irrelevant and do not establish liability. Liability for bad medical care (that is, "malpractice") is based on (essentially) medical negligence, or unreasonable carelessness. That is, did the medical care providers not render a diagnosis or provide the level of care that a reasonable--and reasonably skilled--provider would have, based on the symptoms, care results, etc. If the care provided was what a reasonable provider may have done, then even i the outcome was bad for the patient, it is not malpractice. In addition, there must be a causal link between the bad care and the bad outcome--that is, the negligent or careless care must have caused the harm. If  the outcome would have happened anyway,  this is no liability. 
Therefore, you need to consult with other doctors and find out if the care was careless (did not rise to then-currently accepted standards of medical care) and also caused the problems. If so, *then* you contact a lawyer to discuss a legal case. But if there is no evidence that the care was deficient or caused the harm, there would be no liability.


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