4-2-2019

My Parent Wrongfully Died In A Hospital. What Should I Do?

Wrongful deaths in the medical world aren’t that uncommon. John Hopkins Medicine studied patient records over an eight-year span. During that time, they found more than 250,000 cases where medical or diagnostic errors caused a patient’s death.

If your parent wrongfully died in a hospital, knowing what to do is impacted by the grief you’re suddenly feeling. You may also worry. Statically, medical malpractice lawsuits can be tricky. A 20-year study released in 2009 found that in cases where evidence is weak, only 10 to 20% lead to a successful verdict. Where there is reasonable evidence, the success rate increases to 30 percent. Only half of all cases with strong evidence lead to a satisfactory verdict.

Does this mean you shouldn’t talk to a lawyer? No! Every wrongful death claim is different. Always talk to an attorney. It doesn’t cost anything to ask. Here are the things you should be prepared to answer or provide.

What Are the Leading Types of Malpractice That Cause a Wrongful Death?

You would think that hospitals would double or even triple-check their work, but medical mistakes happen for various reasons. These are the most common mistakes.

Medication Errors

One of the leading errors made by a hospital involves medication errors. It could be a nurse administered the wrong medication or dosage or a doctor prescribed an incorrect medicine or dosage. A hospital pharmacist may fill a prescription order with the wrong medication.

In 2018 Vanderbilt University Medical Center failed to tell the county medical examiner about a medication error that caused a patient’s death. A nurse administered a powerful anesthetic used in surgeries instead of the sedative she was supposed to give. The incorrect medication put the patient in a state of unconsciousness and led to cardiac arrest and brain death.

Misdiagnosis

Sometimes, physicians make mistakes diagnosing a patient. It affects the quality of care and speed of certain treatments that could have saved the patient’s life.

In 2017, a five-year-old girl was brought into an English hospital suffering from stomach pain, a high fever, a rapid heart rate, and diarrhea. Doctors diagnosed her as having viral gastroenteritis and that they needed to make sure she stayed hydrated. She actually had appendicitis and died at home a few days later.

Surgical Errors

Surgeries come with risks, but what happens if the surgeon makes a foolish error? It’s possible. A 2018 lawsuit in Wisconsin is a good example.

A factory worker went to a Kenosha Hospital with back pain. A physician who read the MRI saw a lesion and performed a biopsy. That biopsy was allegedly performed in the wrong area. During that surgery, healthy spinal tissue was actually removed and left the man in a wheelchair.

Failure to Explain the Risks

Prior to surgery, patients have to be told what the risks are. The patient and his or her family needs to be able to weigh the risks and benefits and make an educated decision. If a physician fails to explain those risks and the patient dies, it may qualify for a medical malpractice claim.

What Do You Do?

From reading the types of malpractice, you still believe your parent’s death was untimely and due to a medical error. Here’s what you do next.

Keep records of every treatment your parent received. Most hospitals and medical practices allow patients to log in and access test results and physician notes. Print copies and store them in a safe place. If your parent had surgery, take photos of the incision. Make sure they’re date and time stamped. Get the names of doctors and nurses who provided care to your parent.

Sit down with your siblings and other close relatives and have a family meeting. You don’t want them getting a surprise call. If they’re called as a witness, they should be aware that the call could be coming.

Now, call an attorney. Consultations don’t cost anything. If an attorney decides you have a case, many lawyers will work out a contingency fee arrangement, where you don’t pay any money if you don’t win the case.

Carpenter & Zuckerman are experts in medical malpractice. Together, they’ve won more than $1.5 billion for their clients. The California law firm holds the honor of having the most trial wins in the state. It’s never too late to call and ask for advice. Chat online 24/7 or call 888-CZR-FIRST and have an experienced attorney guide you through what to do next.

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