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Do I have a case?
My husband died from an infection he received from hospital equipment and the specialty team’s inappropriate use of. About 3 weeks before his death, he had been admitted for 1 infection. He then came home after 10 days but returned after 2. Then they said he had another infection and were going to send him home after another 10 days, only they were sending him home on IV antibiotics. However, the cost of them increased just before we were discharged, so they were going to keep him 3 more days and wait for the infectious disease doctor to see if there was a less expensive antibiotic. Unfortunately, he crashed on the Sunday before the doctor came back to work. They then did a scope of his lungs and the infectious disease doctor came in the next day and said that he now has a super bug called stenotrophomonas maltophila which looking is a rare infections for humans. It is usually received from hospital settings in ICU’s and on a mechanical device that uses water. He was on a ventilator and every time water built up in the hose, most of the respiratory team just poured the water from the hose into his lungs. This not only gave him the infection but also did not help him clear his lungs from the pneumonia.
Asked on August 21, 2018 under Malpractice Law, Arkansas
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 3 years ago | Contributor
Whether you have a case depends on (1) whether what the respiratory team did is considered an acceptable or reasonable medical practice--I know it does not sound reasonable, but some acceptable medical practices do sound like bad ideas; if his was considered acceptable by medicine, they did nothing wrong; (2) whether it can be shown that this practice, if it was not acceptable, caused an illness (you need some medical evidence or reason to know that the practice resulted in, for example, an infection and/or pneumonia); and (3) whether if the practice did result in an illness, that illness caused or contributed to his death (since if he would have died anyway, the practice did not, in a practical sense, harm him). In short, you need to show fault (negligence or carelessness) and harm caused by that fault.
Based on what you write, it may well be malpractice--but you need some medical basis for believing that the practice was wrong and led to his death. It would be well worth your while to consult with a medical malpractice attorney (many provide a free initial consultation to evaluate a case; you can confirm this before making an appointment), who can help you determine if, in this specific case, malpractice was committed and what the case might be economically worth. Good luck, and please accept our sympathy on your loss.
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