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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    12

    Default Legitimacy Of My Complaint Against An ER Doctor

    Hello,

    This complaint is actually from last year. I posted it to another forum, but no one there has legal expertise. I'm just still wondering if I had legitimate reason to file a comlaint against this doctor, or if I was just unfortunate. This is the story, as told by me about a year ago.


    I have been very sick for the last two weeks. On Thursday the 12th, I drove myself to the ER with a fever and severe pain in my back, on the right, and in my chest under my ribcage. (My husband is out of town working, I had called him and he was telling me to have my dad come pick me up, but I didn't want my parents there- they tend to hover and it makes me nervous.) Anyway, I was treated very well THIS time, diagnosed with a kidney infection, given antibiotics for the infection, Lortab for the pain, and anti-nausea pills in case the antibiotics upset my stomach.

    The next day I got all the meds minus the nasuea pills because I don't generally have a problem with medication/ nausea. However, I did notice that I was feeling slightly queasy. Continue through Saturday night, at the end of which I began vomiting, and once there was nothing left to vomit, I was dry heaving. I couldn't keep Gatorade down, it was that bad.

    So Sunday evening, I haven't had any medication, or any food or liquids and the constant nausea is more than I can take. I remembered the anti-nausea pills and asked my dad to get them for me, so he did. A couple of hours later, I wasn't any better; still in pain, still nauseous, probably dehydrated (when they told me to take in a lot of fluids) and without medication for my infection. So I caved in and asked my dad to bring me back to the ER, thinking they would give me IV fluids, and maybe antibiotics through an IV as well.

    Unfortunately I didn't see the same doctor as last time. This guy ordered chest X-rays, blood work, a urine test, and told me they would put me on an IV. Well a tech came in to draw blood, and left the thing in my hand for the IV, but no one ever started it. I don't know if the doctor cancelled that order or what, but I really thought I needed it. Also, a nurse came in to give me a breathing treatment. I was wondering why, she kept asking if I had been coughing and I told her no. Apparently some miscommunication there.

    A couple of hours later, the doctor came in and said all my lab work was clear, and that the only thing he could attribute the pain to at this point was nerves. Yes, he diagnosed me with anxiety. I told him that was not possible, restated the nature of the pains, and even reminded him about the vomiting for 24 hours. He said, "Well, you vomited last night. You've been dry heaving today." What's the difference?! My stomach is still a mess, and I have no food, fluids, or meds. I reminded him of this and he just looked at me and said "I'll go get your discharge papers."

    So I spent all day Monday feeling like crap, and not eating. Tuesday I managed to keep a standing appointment with my doctor, who said my infection was NOT cleared up, and changed my antibiotic to one that would be gentler on my stomach, and diagnosed the chest pains as pleuritis, and inflamation of the lining of the lungs. I got prescription strength Naproxen Sodium for this.

    Very soon, I was feeling better. Except I went back to the doctor yesterday because now I have the flu. I know doctors aren't perfect, but I really feel like this guy ignored everything I had to say, including possible dehydration. When the lab work all came back clear, he dismissed everything else I had to say. Seeing as how my doctor made this diagnosis so quickly and easily, don't you think I should have recieved better treatment in the ER?

    Would I have legitimate reason to file a complaint?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    16,889

    Default Re: Complaint Against ER Doctor- Legitimate?

    If you feel you were not adequately treated, you can always complain to the hospital or the state medical board.

    But there is nothing you have posted that offers you any legal recourse. You have no long lasting damages; no damages, no lawsuit.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    12

    Default Re: Legitimacy Of My Complaint Against An ER Doctor

    Hi,

    No, I wasn't thinking of suing or anything. Just felt like the Dr. was very dismissive and there was no reason for him to miss the things my primary care physician caught. If someone is in the ER (and spending a fortune, as I have no insurance) they deserve to be fully evaluated and treated for a REAL condition, not told that they are sufering from anxiety. He didn't want to look any further than some test results. Tests can be wrong, and I was obviously in misery that night.

    I am of the opinion that those in the medical field cover for each other when necessary, so it wouldn't be worth it to file a formal complaint. I did speak to a patient relations type person about it. Nothing really happened.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    supratentorial region
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    818

    Default Re: Legitimacy Of My Complaint Against An ER Doctor

    Quote Quoting j.l.w.d
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    Hi,

    No, I wasn't thinking of suing or anything. Just felt like the Dr. was very dismissive and there was no reason for him to miss the things my primary care physician caught. If someone is in the ER (and spending a fortune, as I have no insurance) they deserve to be fully evaluated and treated for a REAL condition, not told that they are sufering from anxiety. He didn't want to look any further than some test results. Tests can be wrong, and I was obviously in misery that night.

    I am of the opinion that those in the medical field cover for each other when necessary, so it wouldn't be worth it to file a formal complaint. I did speak to a patient relations type person about it. Nothing really happened.

    I would not classify obtaining a Chest X-ray, blood work, a urinalysis as "dismissive". With all diagnostic testing "clear", the ER Doc, made a diagnosis with that information and his physical exam.

    You chose not to fill the anti-nausea prescription which, you now know, was written for a reason (many antibiotics cause nausea). You stopped taking your antibiotics because of the nausea and vomiting. Of course your infection wasn't cleared!

    Other than taking cbg's suggestion of complaining to the hospital, I don't see that you have a case against a Physician that treated you well withing the standard of care.

    I am glad you're feeling better.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    12

    Default Re: Legitimacy Of My Complaint Against An ER Doctor

    Quote Quoting lealea1005
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    I would not classify obtaining a Chest X-ray, blood work, a urinalysis as "dismissive". With all diagnostic testing "clear", the ER Doc, made a diagnosis with that information and his physical exam.
    I realize he was going by test results as he was trained, but it was obvious to the eye (and apparently my pcp) that I was very ill. Just not in lab work.

    Quote Quoting lealea1005
    View Post
    Of course your infection wasn't cleared!
    Then why did he say it was and not offer any further medication, including changing to a milder antibiotic like my pcp did?

    Quote Quoting lealea1005
    View Post
    Other than taking cbg's suggestion of complaining to the hospital, I don't see that you have a case against a Physician that treated you well withing the standard of care.
    I'm not interested in suing. For the most part I don't believe in litigation. However, I do feel that if my pcp was able to help me, a doctor in the ER most certainly should have been able to. He missed the pleuritis as well.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    supratentorial region
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    818

    Default Re: Legitimacy Of My Complaint Against An ER Doctor

    Quote Quoting j.l.w.d
    View Post
    I realize he was going by test results as he was trained, but it was obvious to the eye (and apparently my pcp) that I was very ill. Just not in lab work.

    Your PCP knows you and your complete medical history. An ER Doc treats on an espisodic basis and, in most cases, he/she has never seen you before and will not see you again for follow up. He/she must rely on diagnostic lab results and their physical exam at the time you present with symptoms. You were seen on 2 occassions by 2 different ER Docs who may have had different practice styles.

    Then why did he say it was and not offer any further medication, including changing to a milder antibiotic like my pcp did?

    There are different classes of antibiotics which treat different infections. They all can cause nausea, diarrhea, and/or stomach upset. He may have noted, from your previous visit, that you were already prescribed an appropriate antibiotic (just an experienced assumption on my part). Your PCP, the guy who knows you and your medical history, also made the diagnosis of pleutitis and may have prescribed a broad spectrum antibiotic which would treat both issues.


    I'm not interested in suing. For the most part I don't believe in litigation. However, I do feel that if my pcp was able to help me, a doctor in the ER most certainly should have been able to. He missed the pleuritis as well.
    How did your PCP come up with his diagnosis? Was he in receipt of the typed X-ray report or actual films? Or was it his physical exam and the fact that he knows you and what you normally look/act like? See my point? Again, I do hope you're feeling better.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    12

    Default Re: Legitimacy Of My Complaint Against An ER Doctor

    Quote Quoting lealea1005
    View Post
    How did your PCP come up with his diagnosis? Was he in receipt of the typed X-ray report or actual films? Or was it his physical exam and the fact that he knows you and what you normally look/act like? See my point? Again, I do hope you're feeling better.

    It was his physical exam, and perhaps the fact that he knows usually when I come in it's for sinus trouble- so being there for anything else, I must really be feeling bad. But ER doctors are working in a situation where ALL the patients they are seeing are patients they don't have a history with. All they have to go on is what you are telling them and yes, tests. But when a patient is insisting that there is more going on with her body than anxiety, it is wrong to ignore the pleas for help. My doctor has never seen me with anything worse than a sinus infection. So other than knowing I am not a hypochondriac, he had the same info to go on as the ER doctor: My syptoms and pain, the records from the first ER visit, and knowing which medications I was taking. Based on this, he made attempts to solve the issues, by confirming that the infection was still present (my infection may have shown to be cleared in the u/a in the ER, but I think the doctor should have known that after being on antibiotics for only two days, it would probably be coming back. Even I know that you must finish them completely to knock out the infection), changing my antibiotic, and also caught something the ER doctor missed (pleuritis). I do think my doctor listened to and examined me more thoroughly than the ER physician did. There is no reason the ER doctor couldn't have done what he did. My mother was there; she agrees that he was dismissive.

    Thank you for your get well wishes. This incident was almost exactly a year ago, and yes I am feeling much better. It was a terrible three weeks, dealing with the infection, the pain, not being able to draw in but half a breath, the nausea, and when all that was over I caught the flu. My husband was out of town working at the time so he wasn't even here to comfort and take care of me. So yea, last January prety much sucked. (Does anybody hear that sad music? )

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