Last week I took my Father to the ER because he had a kidney stone. They took blood, a urine sample, did a CT scan and an ultrasound to check on his gallbladder. When all was said and done, they said the kidney stone was only 1.7 mm. They said he should have no problem passing it on his own, and sent us home with pain pills and nausea medicine. The very next day we went back to the ER because his pain was not going away and he still hadn't passed the stone. Come to find out the someone from the night before had misread the chart, the stone wasn't 1.7 mm it was 1.7 cm, which you can not pass!!! Because of this, they had to admit him into the hospital to do a procedure called Lithotripsy where they break up the stone by using shock waves. He ended up having a fever throughout the day, so therefore they couldn't perform the procedure because now he had a kidney infection. They had to settle on putting a stent in his urinal tract until the infection clears up and then they can do the Lithotripsy. If the first set of staff at the ER had caught the mm/cm mistake, my Father would have been admitted the first night, had the procedure done, and never would have gotten the kidney infection. If we hadn't taken him back to the Er the next day, the kidney infection could have gotten much worse and resulted in very bad complications for him. Kidney failure/infection traveling through the blood and who knows what else. Do I have a case? I want to sue.
2 Answers from Attorneys
No, you don't have a case since nothing happened to you. Malpractice cases are not based on what could have happened. Actual damages are required. From your post, arguably, the damages are a delay of a day or so (you were not clear on time). Otherwise, the same treatment would have been necessary either way. A malpractice claim requires an expert opinion from a medical expert that the treatment was below the standard of care, and that there are actual damages. Arguably, you might meet the first requirement. The expenses for a case - even just the cost for a medical expert opinion - are not insignificant. A recovery for a day or so delay in treatment, with no additional damages, may not lead to a significant (or any) recovery given the expenses involved. You can certainly see a good medical malpractice lawyer in your area to go over all the details.
You can't sue for what could have happened. You can only sue for mistakes that are beneath the normal level of care and ACTUALLY cause measurable damage. Just in case you left out something that matters, call a malpractice lawyer.
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