Medical Malpractice/Burst Appendix
I went to the emergency room after suffering from severe abdominal pain all over and vomiting for six hours. They put me on an IV because I was severely dehydrated. They took blood and urine. My medical history shows that I had an intestinal blockage which the doctor was aware of. She diagnosed me with a bacterial infection and gave me an antibiotic. I was leaving for Vegas in two days and asked her if it was still ok if I went and she said I should start feeling better by the weekend.
The following day I was feeling better and ran errands but still had a little pain. By the evening, I felt maybe I pushed myself too much and went to bed. We left the following morning at 6 am for Vegas. By the time I got to Vegas the pain had returned and I was sick again. I decided to lay down for a few hours then went to the hospital. After X-rays and ct scans I was informed my appendix burst and I had abscesses all over my stomach and my gall bladder and bladder were infected. They couldn't operate because it was too dangerous at that time. They did put a drain in. I eventually flew home a week later and went straight to the hospital. Unfortunately, the ct scans have shown that I am a "fireball" of infection with abscesses that can not be reached by drains because of my bladder and sciatic nerve. I am on IV antibiotics until the infection clears and will have weekly ct scans until they feel that it is safe to operate.
My question to you is whether or not I have a case against the first diagnosis. My WBC count was at 17. I am also an hourly employee and when I don't work...I don't get paid. They estimate I will be out of work for three months as the recovery time will be quite long due to the extent of the surgery.
Can you give me some direction on whether or not I can pursue a malpractice case.
OK Noreen, this is what you need to know.
1. The Statute of Limitations in IL for a medical malpractice case is 2 years so you have lots of time.
2. Even if you have a malpractice case, it would take months or even years to resolve so any legal recourse you do have will not provide any financial assistance to your situation for a long long time.
3. If hopefully you eventually make a full recovery.........that is, the infection is gone, you haven't lost any body organs/parts,(other than the appendix), your plumbing works fine, all the infection hasn't impacted your fertility (if that is an issue for you....you didn't state your age), and you are given a clean bill of health, .............then..........even if there was malpractice, you still won't have a case. The reason for that is this:
In any case malpractice brought against the ER hospital, doctor etc., they will defend by saying that based on your history and your symptoms, they did everything within the standard of care. That is, they acted appropriately and gave you appropriate advice and that the STANDRED OF CARE, under the cicumstances of your presenting symptoms, did not require them to diagnose the appendicitis. By definition, medical malpractice is medical practice that FALLS BELOW the standard of care. If you sued they would have high priced attorneys and high priced medical experts in ER standard of care that would say it was unfortunate that they did not make the right diagnosis but again, it was not negligence to fail to do so. The WBC count of 17 that you mentioned is on a scale I am not familiar with. Assuming 17 on that scale is very very high, then I would be the first to suggest that they should have strongly suspect appendicitis and that they were indeed negligent and committed malpractice. They will still say otherwise and cases like this are rarely settled.
So any lawyer taking your case is looking action spending probably $10-20K in the early stages of such a case to hire experts on your side, take depositions of the defendant doctors and their experts, and many other litigation costs. The lawyer would have to devote hundreds of hours to the case over many months or even a couple of years. If the case goes to trial, DOUBLE all those numbers.
So, even is malpractice was committed, and I think perhaps it was if that WBC count was very high indicating the possibility of acute appendictis (that resulted in the peritonitis you have), if you do make a full recovery the damages are just not high enough for any lawyer to risk all that money, time and effort. That lawyer would only get his/her money back not to mention earn a fee to pay for the time and effort in the case, if you settle or win a big big award............for me, damages would have to be maybe $300,000+. Many firms would have a higher threshold to take the case.
So, damages are not known yet. Therefore, whether you have a workable case is unknown at this time. You need to complete your medical care and see where you end up. I realize this has been a terrible situation for you in all respects including loss of earnings and all the other ways it cost you and turned your life upside down. But if you come out medically OK, sure, speak with a lawyer but be well prepared that they probably wouldn't take the case. If you do come out with having surgery that requires removal of the spleen, part of your bowel, gall bladder, etc. or you have any permanent kind of impairment, by all means contact the largest medical malpractice lawfirm in your area and work down the list. Remember the 2 year limitation. Good luck.