Medical Malpractice/Methotrexate

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Question
My father was diagnosed with a brain lymphoma. The doctor stated that with intevenious doses of Methotrexate he could get through this diognosis. He went though the the first round and passed away roughly 25 days after receiving treatment. I noticed that after staying at the hospital getting his kidneys flushed with lukavorin he was released with methotrexate at an elevated level level. I spoke to the on call Doctor a day before he was released and he said my father could not be released until the methotrexate was at a zero level. I know there are consequences with Methotrexate but my father suffered those last days. He got raw bloody mouth and blisters so bad all over his body that even the nurses told me at one point he was like a burn victim and that if came in like he was his last few days they wouldn't accept because of all his blusters. In California is this grounds to even contact a lawyer for a wrongful death?

Answer
You are contacting me, a lawyer with nearly 40 years of medical malpractice experience and I am glad to offer my thoughts on your question but what you really want to know is; could this possibly be a viable med mal case that a med mal lawyer would be willing to pursue?  The history your provide is not complete enough and the most important are, his age and the time from diagnosis to his death.  Oh, and also what other treatments did he receive.

I am assuming your father was elderly.  The life expectancy of a brain lymphoma can be very short from a few months to 3-4 years according to my brief research.  If he was in his 70s or older, and even if the hospital broke protocols on the methotrexate, and technically there was malpractice, I can't imagine any lawfirm taking the case.  The reason is as follows:

The lawfirm would have to spend several thousand dollars right away to get an opinion from a medical expert who would be paid to review the entire medical history and every detail of the care he received and then be willing to go on record to say (1) the care was BELOW THE STANDARD OF CARE and (2) that breach in the SOC was the direct and most substantial cause of your  father's demise.  Let's say you got that far.

The hospital and the doctors involved would never admit wrongdoing.  They have no reason to. They pay their insurance deductible and get defended by the best lawyers in town, paid by the insurance company.  The hospital would never say "oh, yes, we screwed up, broke the protocols on metho and so sorry, we ended up killing your father".

No, what they will say in their defense is; "the patient had a very short life expectancy considering his diagnosis, medical history, and age.  We followed the Standard of Care in all respects and although his loss was unfortunate, nothing we did or failed to do hastened his demise".  The defense will have medical experts on their side to say exactly that.

So, your lawyers are now having to spend tens of thousands to depose the experts and get the case to trial and tens more if the case does go to trial.  Guessing your lawyers have already spent about $25,000 just getting close to trial and figure $25-40,000 more if it actually goes to trial.

At best, there might be a 25% chance of winning at a jury trial considering the bias against such cases by juries who generally believe that doctors try to do their best and can't be blamed when things go wrong except in very rare circumstances.  Then consider that in CA there is a CAP of recovery for general damages in a med mal case of $250,000.  I am presuming your father was retired and not supporting anyone.  So, you can see I hope that it is unlikely that any lawfirm would take on such a case when the chances of taking a big loss are far greater than getting their investment back and also earn a handsome fee for the hundreds of hours of work devoted to the case.  So, you can certainly contact as many lawyers as you wish but they will say they are too busy or brush you off but if they took the time, they would tell you what I just have.  That's my take.  Sorry about  your dad.

Medical Malpractice

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Glenn A. Dorfman

Expertise

Thirty-four years experience in personal injury, medical malpractice and medical product liability law. Qualified to answer all questions regarding injuries and the law, except for worker`s compensation. Also wide experience in medical product defect cases ie current litigation regarding the Johnson&Johnson (DePuy)defective hip implant cases and Mirena IUD issues

Experience

Thirty-four years experience handling cases involving auto accidents, trips and fall, fires, dog bite,medical malpractice and defective medical product cases with particular emphasis in 2012 and beyond with the DePuy ASR (Johnson&Johnson) defective hip implant cases. Twenty-five years of experience with defective IUD issues as well

Education/Credentials
Jurisdoctor Degree 1976 and Member in good standing with CA State Bar Assoc. since 1976

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