Is a hospital responsible for weight gain on a congestive heart failure patient?

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Is a hospital responsible for weight gain on a congestive heart failure patient?

Llast year, my grandfather was admitted to a hospital for a three pound weight gain by his home health nurse, he had congestive heart failure and needed to watch his fluids, the hospital kept him for four days and sent him home where we discovered he had gained twenty pounds and was constantly short of breath, afterward he was sent to a different hospital that managed to get the water off and help him.

Asked on April 16, 2012 under Malpractice Law, Arkansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is possible, but far from certain, that the  hospital would be liable or responsible. For that to be the case, it would have to be shown 1) that the weight gain was due to something the hospital did or failed to do (and, for example, not because your grandfather was snacking when he should not have); and 2) that it would be considered malpractice to have not controlled his weight while in the hospital, which is to say that it would be against then-standard or commonly accepted medical care standards to have not controlled your grandfather's weight.

Furthermore, even if it were malpractice, it is likely that he could only recover his out-of-pocket, or unreimburse additional medical costs  (e.g the cost of the second hospital, to the degree he paid out of pocket) and possibly a small amount for the "pain and suffering" of constantly being short of breath for however long he was; but at the same time, malpractice cases tend to be expensive, since you need medical experts on your side (and they charge a great deal for  consultations and testimony). Therefore, even if this were malpractice, your grandfather might not be able to recover enough money to make a lawsuit worthwhile.


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