Jeff Cramer* was experiencing severe abdominal pain so he went to the emergency room of his local hospital. Blood work at the hospital demonstrated an abnormally high white blood count which is evidence of inflammation and infection. High doses of narcotics did not relieve the abdominal pain. An x-ray obstruction series was ordered. Several hours passed before all the testing was accomplished. The obstruction series showed a developing partial bowel obstruction which is a potentially dangerous condition that can lead to loss of a bowel and even death. If treated in time, these outcomes can be avoided.
Since Jeff is in the hospital and has had the proper testing, he can expect a positive result. Right? Unfortunately, no doctors and nurses saw the results of the bowel obstruction x-ray. How could this happen in the hospital emergency room?
The x-ray was ordered by an emergency room doctor at 6:00 p.m., an hour before his shift ended. A few minutes after the x-ray was ordered the emergency room doctor admitted Mr. Cramer to the hospital, transferring Jeff’s care to a doctor that was not currently at the hospital. The emergency room doctor left the hospital at the end of his shift before the results of the x-ray were reported.
No one in the Emergency Department saw the results of the x-ray and the doctor assigned to Mr. Cramer never came into the hospital nor did he call to find out the results of the x-ray. Jeff’s pain persisted and the admitting doctor continued to order pain medication rather than find out the cause of the pain.
These events happened on the weekend. Mr. Cramer slipped through the cracks of the transfer from the emergency room to the admitting doctor at the hospital. Mr. Cramer did not have the benefit of treatment for his bowel obstruction because no one found out the results of the x-ray and he was not seen by a doctor until the following day when it was too late to save his bowel but just in time to save his life.
Unfortunately, these kinds of scenarios are all too common today when hospitals are understaffed and examinations/treatments are rushed. This is not a mistake on the part of the hospital staff. This is negligence. Mr. Cramer’s life was changed forever because of the carelessness of the hospital medical team.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of negligence by a health care professional(s), we can help. Please contact Andres & Berger in New Jersey today for a free initial consultation on your legal rights and options.
Keep in mind that the civil justice system holds doctors, hospitals and insurance companies accountable. It is this accountability that drives the development of patient safety systems that help prevent negligence before it occurs. Without the accountability enforced by the civil justice systems, patient safety will suffer and health care costs will go up for everyone.
*Name was changed of this Andres & Berger client