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  1. #1
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    Jun 2015
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    Default Can You Sue for Malpractice if a Doctor Refuses to Perform an Emergency Procedure

    My question involves medical malpractice in the state of: Virginia

    My wife delivered our baby on May 7. Two weeks later she was readmitted for a D&C for retained placenta. One week following the D&C she returned again for a blood patch because of leaking spinal fluid from her epidural site. One week after that she began to hemorrhage and we went to the ER. We arrived at the ER at 10:30 am. By noon she had a sonogram and she was diagnosed with a uterine AV malformation. The ER doctor said that she needed the vessels in her uterus embolized and that an interventional radiologist would perform the embolization as soon as possible. At that point the doctor left the room and told us to hang tight and he was going to get things set up. He returned a few minutes later and told us the radiologist wasn't available to the embolization until the next day. He said that the radiologists was booked up. The ER doctor told us the radiologist she have a CAT scan to get a more detailed view of the AVM, which they immediately did. We were admitted and they put us in a room in the post surgery wing. My wife was soaking a pad an hour with blood at this point. The nurses checked with her a few times to ask how her bleeding was before we went to sleep around 9:30 PM. At approximately 1:30 AM my wife woke up in a pool of her own blood - to the point it was running off the sides of the bed. I called for a nurse. The nurse came in and soon the scene was chaotic. The room filled with nurses and doctors. Her OBGYN was called in. The OBGYN called the interventional radiologist (who earlier in the day claimed he was too busy to perform the embolization). The radiologist told the OBGYN that he did not work at night and refused to come in, even as the OBGYN pleaded with him. The hospital staff tried to get the bleeding under control but it was literally pumping out of her vagina. They doctor had the crash cart brought into the room as my wife passed out. The OBGYN called the radiologist back again to request he come in and perform the embolization. Again the radiologist refused to come in and told the doctor to pack my wife with gauze and give her blood and he would be there when his shift started. The OBGYN was going to perform an emergency hysterectomy, but my wife was not stable enough to survive the surgery. Eventually the OBGYN had to call someone with some power who contacted the radiologist who finally came in to perform the procedure at 6:00 AM. My wife had to receive 5 units of blood before the procedure. She spent the next 4 days in the ICU. It appears she is going to physically recover, however, the psychiatrist at the hospital diagnosed my wife with PTSD after the near death event. She is no longer herself, she is extremely on edge and scared to hold our new baby, walk up or down steps, have intercourse, walk too fast, basically afraid to move in fear of bleeding to death. She is now seeing a psychiatrist for her mental distress.

    The uterine AV malformation is described on medical sites as a very serious, deadly condition that must be treated immediately. Should we take legal action against the radiologist and/or the hospital for failing to perform the procedure in a timely manner which has caused my wife to have PTSD and mental distress?

  2. #2
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: Nearly Died After Doctor Refused to Perform Procedure

    The only way you're going to know is if you take your wife and her medical records to a med-mal attorney as soon as possible. I must be honest though - a bad outcome does not equate to malpractice. Even if there's a mistake, it does't necessarily mean it's malpractice.

    I wish you both the best - that must have been incredibly scary for you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Nearly Died After Doctor Refused to Perform Procedure

    I suspect you will find the radiologist not a hospital employee and as such, able to refuse to perform work they do not wish to perform. If they had no obligation to report as the hospital requested, well, they were allowed to say no. As far as suing the hospital; not understanding why you believe they were negligent here. It sounds like they did everything within their power to get the surgery performed. If they do not have a person willing to perform the surgery, their options are to continue to look for a person that will perform the work or transport the patient to a facility that does have the staff on hand to do the work.

    I think you may not have such an issue as you believe you think though.

    She is no longer herself, she is extremely on edge and scared to hold our new baby, walk up or down steps, have intercourse, walk too fast, basically afraid to move in fear of bleeding to death. She is now seeing a psychiatrist for her mental distress.
    she delivered when? just over a month ago?

    she had the complications treated when? About 2 weeks ago?

    1. it sounds like post partum depression

    2. it is not unusual for a patient to have sex for 6 weeks, and sometimes more but given the complications, it is no surprise she has no interest a mere 2 weeks after the procedure she underwent.

    3. is this your first child? If so, being scared to hold a newborn is not uncommon. Some woman are very comfortable with it; others not.

    4. walk too fast? For God's sake man. She had a serious medical procedure about 2 weeks ago. It takes time to recover

    5. walk up or down steps; same thing

    6. the fear of bleeding to death; while it might be an issue, given the problems she did have (which are not due to negligence of the providers) I wouldn't be too surprised at this feeling.


    You can surely take your records to a medical malpractice attorney but so far, I don't see a lot that isn't fairly common for a woman that has very recently delivered a child and had some very serious complications that required additional medical procedures to deal with.

  4. #4
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    Jun 2015
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    Default Re: Nearly Died After Doctor Refused to Perform Procedure

    The radiologist is, in fact, an employee of the hospital. I asked. The embolization itself is not a very invasive procedure and the radiologist said the there should be very little recovery time - if any. The OB doctors have told my wife that she is clear to do anything that a mother of a 5 week old baby can do. This is our third child. Obviously I know that intercourse is out of the question for the foreseeable future, but my wife has said that she doesn't know how she will ever be able to have intercourse again without the fear of bleeding.

    Is there a difference between malpractice and negligence?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Nearly Died After Doctor Refused to Perform Procedure

    The radiologist is, in fact, an employee of the hospital. I asked.

    Who did you ask? Exactly what did they say?

    I'm asking for a reason.

  6. #6
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    Jun 2015
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    Default Re: Nearly Died After Doctor Refused to Perform Procedure

    I told the OB doctor that I wanted to file a complaint - who told me that they (OB group) had already filed a risk assessment evaluation against the radiologist. So the OB doctor told us he was employed as a hospitalist radiologist. A patient advocate came to see us who acknowledged he was an employee of hospital as well. Later, the VP of medical affairs from the hospital came into our room and apologized for what happened and assured us that the radiologist would be "dealt with."

  7. #7
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    Jun 2006
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    Massachusetts
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    Default Re: Nearly Died After Doctor Refused to Perform Procedure

    Okay, thanks. That wasn't the answer I was expecting.

    If you'd answered the way I thought you were going to, I'd have had a suggestion for you, but it's not applicable under the circumstances you've described. Just ignore me. Sorry.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Nearly Died After Doctor Refused to Perform Procedure

    The OB doctors have told my wife that she is clear to do anything that a mother of a 5 week old baby can do.
    ok and that means what? I have met women that could dance the day after delivery and I have met women that were slowed for months. That statement in itself is meaningless. It simply says; she can do whatever she is comfortable doing. It appears she is doing that.

    Obviously I know that intercourse is out of the question for the foreseeable future, but my wife has said that she doesn't know how she will ever be able to have intercourse again without the fear of bleeding.

    not understanding your point. The doctors did not cause the bleeding. It appears you were relatively comfortable with waiting until the morning initially. It was only when the bleeding became so excessive did it become an immediate issue and they took steps to deal with it. It took several hours but even if the radiologist came in immediately, it doesn't appear much of anything would have been any different as she had already passed out in a relatively short period of time after discovery of the heavy bleeding.

    personally I think you are way premature in looking to sue them for malpractice. There are typical issues that explain much of what she is experiencing but given what did happen, it has manifested itself with those issues being the focal point. The only issue really is; were they required to perform the procedure sooner than they originally intended, that being when the radiologist came to work in the morning.

    by all means, if you believe it to be of some value to you, seek out a medical malpractice attorney to take a look.

  9. #9
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    Jul 2012
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    So Cal
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    Default Re: Nearly Died After Doctor Refused to Perform Procedure

    Question: Why was a radiologist the only individual who could perform the procedure? Did you ask this question? And there's a reason that I'm asking.

    Failure to act, especially in a life-threatening emergency such as your wife's, is in fact potentially actionable based on the circumstances. I seem to be in the minority here, but I don't think that you're overreacting. However, JK did make some very good points re: post partum depression and if you find a top not med mal lawyer who will take on your case, you can expect that this issue will likely be raised if it ever makes it to trial.

    In your position I would absolutely schedule a consultation with at least two attorneys who specialize primarily in the field of medical malpractice and not your run of the mill PI lawyer. There's a reason that the hospital is, in effect, sucking up to you right now. That means they're worried, as well they should be.

    I wouldn't wait - I would start looking for a medical malpractice attorney ASAP.

    And I'm very very sorry for what you went through. I know the terror and helplessness of watching your spouse deteriorate before your eyes in a hospital filled with doctors who aren't doing anything to help. It's gut wrenching.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Quoting Dogmatique
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    The only way you're going to know is if you take your wife and her medical records to a med-mal attorney as soon as possible. I must be honest though - a bad outcome does not equate to malpractice. Even if there's a mistake, it does't necessarily mean it's malpractice.

    I wish you both the best - that must have been incredibly scary for you.
    I don't know, Doggie. They got to the hospital at 10:30 am, she was hemorrhaging severely, and 14 hours later all hell broke loose. Her condition was life threatening, she lost so much blood that she passed out about 15 hours later, and the radiologist refused to treat her, and she required 5 units of blood. That doesn't sound like a mistake to me, but malpractice on the part of the doctor. Failure to act in that situation? I think they have a cause of action. IMO that's not merely a mistake, but total and utter negligence.

    OP, please speak to a lawyer and come back to give us an update. I'm curious what a medical malpractice lawyer has to say about this situation.

  10. #10
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: Nearly Died After Doctor Refused to Perform Procedure

    I didn't mean to imply this OP had no case - it was just a reminder that a mistake doesn't always equate to a viable suit.

    I'm on the fence otherwise - but probably for different reasons and they don't need to confuse this thread.

    I completely identify though, with watching a spouse/partner go downhill. It actually happened to my late husband; he died on Christmas Day, some years ago, at age 31.

    But I'm hijacking. Sorry.

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