Hospital Sued After Patient Left In Hallway For 7 Hours
The family and estate of a man who died in a New Haven hospital has filed a wrongful death lawsuit after they said the hospital abandoned their son for seven hours. In this case, the hospital has issued a statement that sounds an awful lot like it has admitted liability in this matter. This is exceedingly rare.
In a statement, the hospital said that even the best-run organizations will leave gaps in care that could impact the quality of patient care. They said their goal is to acknowledge these shortcomings, learn from them, and ensure that they never happen again. While this may sound ideal, the quality of care rendered by the hospital was not just negligent, but nonexistent. In this case, they left a patient to die in a hallway while he awaited intervention for seven hours. The hospital issued an apology to the family and stated that it was working toward a resolution. While not unprecedented, it is exceedingly rare for a hospital to admit liability prior to a plaintiff jumping through several hoops to get their medical malpractice lawsuit before a judge and jury. The hospital has very little incentive to do anything until a medical malpractice review panel has commented on the case.
This isn’t complicated. The patient went to the emergency room after ingesting a white powder he thought was fentanyl. First responders had administered naloxone to reverse the overdose and then brought him to the hospital for observation. He was admitted to the hospital at 7 pm. The next time a nurse checked on him it was 2 am. At this point, he no longer had a pulse. In this case, it looks like the hospital just forgot about him and did not recognize their error until it was too late.
Medical malpractice or simple negligence?
State laws differ on the matter, but in Florida, medical malpractice lawsuits require that a bad or negligent medical decision be made. Just because an injury occurs in a hospital doesn’t mean its medical malpractice. In this case, the services rendered weren’t negligent, they were nonexistent. No one checked on the patient until it was too late. By then, the hospital would have had a duty of care to render aid since the ambulance had brought him to the hospital. They simply didn’t. However, a case like this could end up complicated. What if the nurses thought the patient was stable enough to recover fully without further intervention?
Another question: Why didn’t the naloxone work? Well, EMTs don’t always give enough naloxone to completely suppress the opioids in a patient’s system. This is because individuals coming out of an opioid high can become really irritable when their high goes away. The EMTs should have communicated this to the hospital, and the hospital should have monitored the patient. Does that qualify as a medical decision? The court gets to decide.
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