General Question

eferrara's avatar

Can we sue for medical malpractice (long details inside)

Asked by eferrara (145points) October 27th, 2013

My mother has had issues with her abdominal wall since having a hysterectomy years ago. She had another surgery to repair some hernias afterward, but I guess the surgery wasn’t very successful and basically her abdomen was all ripped up on the inside. Causing her years of pain. This past Friday I went with her to have yet another surgery to repair the abdomen. I watched her sign a consent form to repair the left side using that mesh stuff. While in the operating room she asked the surgeon to take a look at the right side as well because she’s been having intermittent pain, and he agreed. I went to visit her after the surgery and found out the surgeon operated on her right side. Only. And didn’t even use the mesh. The doctor came in for a post-op visit and when I asked why the left side wasn’t done he gave me a funny look and said he was supposed to focus on the right side. When my mom challenged this he said “we’ll see”, mumbled a few things to his intern and left! So basically he didn’t do anything he was supposed to. My mom went for several pre-op visits so I’m not sure why he’d forget what he was operating on. Obviously my mom is very upset and I’m trying to get a hold of this doctor but his office is saying she doesn’t come in for 3 weeks for her post-op appointment. My mom is going to have to have another surgery to finally fix this problem and now she is in even more pain as she has to recover from this unnecessary surgery. She cannot work, she won’t collect disability because she thinks she’s cheating the government, and though I don’t mind, I have to stay home to take care of her. I don’t know what can be done here, but I am so upset and wondering if this could be medical malpractice or negligence? Do you think a lawyer would take this case or is it a lost cause? We live in Canada.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

10 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Contact a lawyer. This is inexcusable. Usually a lawyer will take the case and charge you nothing, he just gets a portion of what you are awarded or what is settled for. I think the standard is the lawyer gets 30%. You need a lawyer who specializes in this sort of thing. I am so sorry your mom has been through so much. It’s just awful.

I don’t know if it is different in Canada, I am in the US, because sometimes when medicine is socialized it is harder to sue, but there must be some sort of recourse for people who are truly damaged by a doctor’s incompetence.

OneBadApple's avatar

Using the internet, you should be able to determine who some of the most capable attorneys are in your area. Call their office(s) and ask whether a free (or minimal cost) consultation can be arranged, or if they would consider first accepting an email from you with precisely the information you have shown here.

Once they know the above facts, they might contact you regarding how strong your case is, and what the cost might be to represent you.

Remember, a lot of surgeons are not good listeners, and many of them graduated at the bottom of their class…..

Good luck.

Smitha's avatar

The doctor has acted with negligence and this would be enough to have a strong medical malpractice claim.Medical malpractice law varies considerably from state to state,so it’s often essential to get advice or representation from a lawyer because clinical negligence cases are always fiercely defended.

Seaofclouds's avatar

You definitely want to speak with a lawyer. In the meantime, while you wait to get in touch with a lawyer, you should have your mother request a copy of her medical records from the doctor’s office that did the surgery, along with any other records she can get in regards to her abdominal surgeries. The lawyers will request their own copy, but having a copy on hand when first speaking to a lawyer will give the lawyer an opportunity to review them sooner than later and let you know if you have a case.

srmorgan's avatar

I have had several surgeries on both hands in the last four years. Each time I was at pre-admission, I was asked by a nurse which hand was being operated on. My own surgeon came in each time to ask which hand and then he put a mark on my wrist and came in just before they put me under to verify which hand was in play.

This is part of best practices used all over by hospitals. There have been egregious mistakes made in surgeries on the wrong limb and now best practices require confirmation of where the patient expects to be operated on.

You need to get a hold of medical records, but I doubt that you will get anything within the next few days. A lot of surgeries in the US are recorded and even video may be used, but any conversations, directions, surgeon’s instructions have to be transcribed into electronic media and that takes a few days.

There should also be a patient advocate available to you at the hospital. (This is universal in the US and I can’t imagine that Canada is any different). Your mother should have been given a pamphlet explaining patients’ rights which contained the name of the patient advocate. Or it should be in the hospital information guide which should be in your mother’s hospital room. Or a phone call to the hospital switchboard should get you to the right person.

Also if your mother is still in hospital, any member of the professional staff, nurses, physicians, technicians should now how to get ahold of the patient advocate.

Make that call. Get your mother’s experience on record, quickly. Don’t hesitate on this. it will help you find out what went on.

Seriously I would report this to hospital administration (through the patient advocate if possible) and I would do this before I attempted to get a lawyer involved. First find out what happened.

If you decide to engage an attorney, here is some advice that might be useful to you. This advices works both for the US and for Canada.

Good luck and my prayers for your mother.


chyna's avatar

Yes you can sue. I know a guy that had the wrong foot operated on and he won a big settlement.
First, go to the hospital and request every one of her medical records. They have to give them to you, although they may charge you for them. Then see a lawyer.
I’m not sure if it would be a good idea to see the same doctor now though.
I have seen a couple Judge shows where they ask “if the person screwed you up, why did you go back”. Not sure if you can go by that though.
Good luck and let us know.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Talk to a lawyer, because there is some question about what went on.

But be aware that suing is NOT winning. Getting from a lawsuit to a decision (and a payout) is a long an expensive process.

jca's avatar

You can sue for anything you want to. The question is “are you likely to win?” Another question is “is there a lawyer that will take this case, contingent only on winning?” What I mean by that is, you can find a lawyer to sue if you pay him up front, but as far as getting one to take the case based upon ⅓ of the winnings, meanwhile working for free? You will only get one to do so if you have a good case.

It’s also difficult and expensive to find doctors willing to testify against other doctors. You will be paying at least $10,000 per day for a doctor’s testimony, if you can find one to do it.

A lawyer told me once that you will only have a successful malpractice suit if you have long term damages resulting from the doctor’s negligence. It seems as if, in your mom’s case, that’s an “iffy” question.

kounoupi's avatar

What kind of surgery it was? Open or laparoscopic? Can it be that the incision was made on the right side but the technique used was for the abdominal wall in unity? You see there is no way for this community to provide the answer you are looking for. What I would suggest is first to consult another qualified MD with the medical record at hand. You can also have a lawyer look into the legal aspects of the case as well.

Response moderated (Spam)

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther