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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    USA- Tennessee
    Posts
    7

    Question Medical Malpractice Resulting in Wrongful Death

    My question involves medical malpractice in the state of: Tennessee

    Hello everyone. I'm new to these forums. I've been wanting to post my questions about this thread topic for a couple months. However, due to the pain & suffering from losing a loved one I haven't been able to make myself visit the situation.

    I just haven't handled losing my dad very well. There's been too much pain & heartache to really focus on a possible malpractice suit. However, I finally have gotten myself together recently along with my sister to focus on what we believe was the wrongful death of our dad.

    I will be providing the story & time-line of our father's death in this post. I'll try to keep it as brief as possible but may need full details to show what has happened.

    Our dads was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer back in November of last year(2008). He went through the standard treatment of chemo & radiation for a few weeks. He lost tons of weight & was really malnutrioned during this time. He had already lost enough weight just due to cancer.

    He went through surgery for the cancer after finishing the initial treatment options of chemo & radiation. The surgery performed was a TTE(Transthoracic esophagectomy). Specifically an Ivor Lewis TTE was done. Once the surgery was done our dad seemed to be doing quite well. As a matter of fact, he was doing better than expected for a 66-year old man. The staff at the hospital was shocked to how well he was doing.

    However, on the 8th day after surgery our dad took a sudden turn for the worse. We were in shock to get a phonecall telling us that our dad was suddenly very ill. This happened on a Saturday morning around 8:00 AM. The doctors that performed the surgery(thoracic surgeon & oncology surgeon) wasn't there & was not gonna be there for weekend. They told us this on the Friday before this happened.

    When I got to the hospital our dad was having a hard time breathing & appeared to me in shock or at least some heart or breathing problem. I thought he was dying right before my eyes. This was in the CCU part of the hospital. I wasn't supposed to back there but I was sneaking to peep & see what was happening. There was numerous staff working on my dad.

    Finally, after a couple hours, one doctor came to us & told us they didn't know what was happening to our dad. They thought it may be a blood clot had developed in his lungs or chest area. They ordered a CT Scan but had to delay getting it done they said due to our dad's instability.

    They wanted him to be stable before going for the CT Scan. That was about 6-8 hours later though. After the test results of the scan we were basically told there wasn't any blood clots & they still didn't know what was wrong. Keep in mind that his two surgeons weren't available.

    Another surgeon on the job was called to get his opinion. This was a relatively young doctor. He studied the CT Scan & other lab results. He consulted with the family & we could tell from his tone he didn't know what was going on. We asked him if our dad was critical & something needed to be done soon? He said that something needed to be done because he was getting more critical by the hour.

    He asked if we accepted him going back into the stomach to take a look & explore the possibilities? Of course, we wanted something done because our dad was getting worse by the hour. He did his Exploratory Laporatomy & came back to tell us that he found our dad's feeding tube wrapped around his intestines. This told me that the feeding tube was never physically placed right t begin with before his treatments started.

    He said that he wasn't experienced enough to physically go into the chest/thoracic region to explor what might be happening there. He hoped that the feeding tube was the cause but wasn't sure. This was done Saturday night on the day of our dad's sudden turn. The next day(Sunday) our dad was now starting to look worse.

    His eyes were starting to get blood shot & he was fading out of consciousness. He was getting in like a coma state. You could still see his eyes but it was a gazing stare & something I'll never forget.

    On Monday, the regular surgeons showed up & said they couldn't believe what had happened. Well, we still wasn't told what was going on with our dad that day. They were giving him antibiotics & keeping him pain free they said. It wasn't until Tuesday that one of his surgeons stated to us that possibly it was an "anastomotic leak".

    However, we wasn't told what action was going to be taken for it. These type leaks are fatal & I had read a little about them when researching the complications of this type surgery. We were finally told on Wednesday by our dad's medical oncologist(yes oncologist & not his surgeons) that they can confirm it was one of these leaks. We asked what was to be done to get it corrected. We was told that our dad was to unstable to go back into the area to try & fix it. Our dad was developing sepsis by the day.

    He eventually on Friday passed away due to multiple organ failure due to the sepsis. They did attempt to use Dialysis starting on Wednesday evening to see if they could get his kidneys working again but to no avail.

    We feel that there was negligence on the part of the hospital & surgeons causing our dad's death. There was nothing done to intervene & physically go back to fix the leak. There was time but no qualified doctors around to make a decision or even to do anything. Those two days that his surgeons were gone was critical.

    We basically watched him die & there was nothing being done to save our dad. We were later told by one of the surgeons that our dad wasn't physically strong enough to withstand any type surgery again with his condition. Well, he was gonna die anyhow with what was happening to him so why wouldn't that chance be taken?

    We are now in the process of waiting for a local lawyer to get back with us on a possible malpractice suit. We have taken him the medical records to review & that has been about 2 weeks now. I post here to get some analysis or opinions on how things went because we feel that there was definitely negligence involved here & this would fall under the "wrongful death" category. BTW, the lymph nodes taken from my dad had not one single indication of cancer after the surgery. The cancer itself didn't kill him so we feel it was the hospital & surgeons. Thanks! BTW, our dad had stage-2 cancer & hadn't spread to any other part of the body nor any lymph nodes nearby.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death Lawsuit

    Well the surgeons should have signed out your case to be covered by a qualified surgeon. Even if there was an immediate operation the mortality would be very high >80%in the peioperative period and the mortality from the cancer would be 95% over 5 yrs. So I know that is a poor conslodation but I hope that gives you at least a bit of peace

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    USA- Tennessee
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death Lawsuit

    Quote Quoting deepsleep1975
    View Post
    Well the surgeons should have signed out your case to be covered by a qualified surgeon. Even if there was an immediate operation the mortality would be very high >80%in the peioperative period and the mortality from the cancer would be 95% over 5 yrs. So I know that is a poor conslodation but I hope that gives you at least a bit of peace
    Yeah! There was no "qualified" surgeon that was assigned to take care of my dad. I know this is a too common problem in the medical field. I know the mortality rate with this pretty high. Our current malpractice lawyer that's looking into our case has told us he needs a little more time to review.

    When we chatted with his paralegal this week she stated that he says there's a "possible" doctor error in the surgical process that he's looking into for more detail. That's all she stated & said this was based on the operative report only thus far. This malpractice lawyer we have is well-known in this area & has the record for money amount won in the state for this type claim.

    We know he is doing a thorough job in looking into the medical records we provided. It's now been over a month since we turned things over to him. The paralegal stated that we would know more within a few days. Thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
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    98,846

    Default Re: Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death Lawsuit

    The gist seems to be that there was a relatively common post-surgical complication, which was very likely identified on the informed consent form your father signed, and your father unfortunately experienced that complication. Doctors then assessed his condition and determined that he was likely to live longer if they did not operate, given that he was not likely to survive a surgical intervention to correct the complication.

    I understand your frustration, but no surgery is risk free and sometimes an apparent choice is no choice at all - it becomes a matter of what will kill you sooner, the medical condition or the surgery.

    By now your lawyer has been able to fully review the medical records and advise you as to whether something you might not have mentioned here, or which might not be obvious from what you've posted, could support a malpractice suit.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    USA- Tennessee
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    7

    Default Re: Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death Lawsuit

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    The gist seems to be that there was a relatively common post-surgical complication, which was very likely identified on the informed consent form your father signed, and your father unfortunately experienced that complication. Doctors then assessed his condition and determined that he was likely to live longer if they did not operate, given that he was not likely to survive a surgical intervention to correct the complication.

    I understand your frustration, but no surgery is risk free and sometimes an apparent choice is no choice at all - it becomes a matter of what will kill you sooner, the medical condition or the surgery.

    By now your lawyer has been able to fully review the medical records and advise you as to whether something you might not have mentioned here, or which might not be obvious from what you've posted, could support a malpractice suit.
    Actually, the lawyer we got has a high work load. He's really popular in the area & like I said before he is well-known. He only has his son working with him & the paralegal I mentioned before.

    His secretary told us when turning over the medical records that it could take a while to review the records thoroughly. You can tell me he's had enough time all you want. This lawyer is known for his honest & good work. If we were told by his paralegal that he needs more time then take it as that. We certainly don't want him to rush through it all.

    Like the paralegal stated to me over the phone, there was possible evidence of a medical doctor error. Now, what that error might be I don't have a clue because I'm not a doctor. She said something along the lines of this surgery may have not been followed along the lines of common practice for these surgeons.

    In other words, something they may have done was/wasn't typical in all their previous surgeries of their type. Now, there could have been a particular reason for not following typical procedure but we'll see soon enough. She wasn't allowed to go into any further detail until the matter is fully reviewed.

    I'm very well aware of the risk for this surgery. I studied up on this for my dad for weeks on end. However, signing that piece of paper doesn't protect them from malpractice suit. If doctor error was the cause of this leak & he died as a result then to me that's malpractice/wrongful death.

    While this leak is a known complication of the surgery that doesn't protect from doctor errors & negligence. I'm not saying negligence is involved after reading up more since the original posting of this article.

    However, doctor error is a definite part of malpractice & wrongful death. Negligence has a fine line. While the hospital staff didn't contact the surgeons it doesn't mean there was negligence. I understand that better now & medical personnel engaging in these acts is all too common. My dad wasn't even left with a "qualified" attending physician but just an associate of the surgeons.

    He wasn't even qualified to take care of my dad in any adverse event. He wasn't a thoracic surgeon or oncology surgeon. He was a general surgeon with minimal experience. That's not negligence I guess but still bad medical practice indeed. He had no clue as to what was happening to our dad & yeah we're emotional about this indeed.

    Only time will tell in this matter but I do understand the situation better. I'm not saying one way or the other we have something. I'm just telling what's the case as it stands right now in all honesty. Thanks!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Medical Malpractice Resulting in Wrongful Death, Lawsuit

    Hello,
    Perhaps you and your attorney would benefit from a legal nurse consultant performing a review of your Dad's medical record. They can uncover the details, secrets of the care that was given, quite often missed by a paralegal or the attorney. A legal nurse consultant knows the healthcare system.
    Good Luck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death Lawsuit

    Hello,

    It sounds to me like very bad case management of your Dad, and especially towards the end. It is no excuse even though your Dad had a terminal illness as neither he nor your family should have gone through the kind of suffering you descrribed. Believe me I understand your grief and my heart goes out to you and your family and I am very sorry to hear about your Dad's death as you described it and his final days and hours. All Doctors have procedures and a Standard of Care they Must follow, and of course this means hospitals too. Your Dad was in a hospital and not a Hospice and of course the wishes of the family must be respected. Their primary duty was to save your Dad's life or give him the opportunity for more time in this world regardless of the diagnosis. I don't except it as a valid excuse that they couldn't get a better qualified surgeon in there that knew how to handle your Dad's serious situation, and we're talking two full days here-weekend or not! This was a clear case where time was of the essence and their not being able get a qualified surgeon to handle your Dad's emergency situation is just not something that is acceptable to me, and as I see it is not acceptable to you and your family either or else you would not have taken this to an attorney, and rightfully so I might add. It sounds to me like your case has merit and you did the right thing in looking for legal redress. I wish you and your family the best.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Key West, FL
    Posts
    2,350

    Default Re: Medical Malpractice Resulting in Wrongful Death, Lawsuit

    An attorney does NOT have a nurse consult. Give me a break.

    Medical malpractice attorney's have medical experts they consult and this is not optional. It is required by tort reform that they have a substantial basis for a medical malpractice claim.

    If the attorney believes there is a valid claim it will be first made to the insurer of the medical personnel involved. It is possible they will pay something at that point to settle it.

    If they do not settle, this case WILL NEVER go to trial.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    USA- Tennessee
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Medical Malpractice Resulting in Wrongful Death

    Update:

    We met with the lawyer yesterday & his opinion was that the "burden of proof" for negligence/wrongful death couldn't be met. He consulted with a few medical experts & nurses to come to the decision.

    He also met with two docs in the esophageal cancer field. There opinions were the same as pretty much everyone here on the forums. Our dad did die from a "known" complication of this surgery type. That is the identifying factor in not pursuing a malpractice claim he stated. He said there was some questions in regards to doctor error but to prove that would be too difficult.

    Anyhow, no hard feelings to the ones I bickered with on the boards & thanks for everyone's sympathy. Now, we can go on knowing that it was just God's will to take our Dad home. Thanks again for all's feedback on this situation. Please, no I told you so stories here.

    I respect all the expert opinions provided in this thread. Sorry for the bickering but we are a hurt family but things will get better now that we some type closure. Thanks!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Medical Malpractice Resulting in Wrongful Death

    i have sme knowlege abot medical malpractice that is Medical Malpractice is, unfortunately, a very serious concern in our hospitals and is a leading cause of wrongful death. Over 225,000 people die from medical malpractice related injuries in a single year. A US Department of Justice report in 2007 noted that the number of payouts stemming from a survey of medical malpractice cases increased 40%. Even more alarming, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies said medication errors and malpractice potentially killed or harmed one and half million Americans in 2006 alone. For families and loved ones, wrongful death of their loved one is the ultimate statistic showing the horrors of medical malpractice.

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