Died in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU)...

by Anonymous
(St. Louis, MO)

My father died in the hospital's SICU (Surgical Intensive Care Unit) 1 week post-op with internal bleeding (somewhere) and had:

-Hgb of "4"
-Septic/hypovolemic shock
-Metabolic acidosis

He pulled out his NG tube (Nasogastric Intubation tube) while left alone in a chair on the post-op morning of day 3 (he had post-op confusion and recent CVA with slight memory/judgement deficit). His NG tube was crucial due to esophagectomy with hiatal hernia repair and new esophagus made with stomach tissue. He coded during a bath that was given while intubated and on multiple pressors at high doses.

The last doctor's order that I heard was for 2 units of PRBC's (Packed Red Blood Cells) and 1 unit of platelets. Also, no "Rapid Response" or "Code Blue" was called (his heart rate was "29") and I had to argue to have them give Atropine and start a "Code" with the only exception to his Code status as "No chest compressions".

In addition to the devastating loss it was also traumatic and horrifying for me and my family. He also had a taut distended abdomen (compartment syndrome) after the "Death bath" which had been soft prior. Does this qualify as a wrongful death medical malpractice case? I am horrified, please let me know if there is anything we can do about this. Thank you!

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Died in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU)...":

Anonymous (St. Louis, MO):

The fact scenario you offer is based upon complicated medical procedures and terms. To know whether you have the basis of a meritorious medical malpractice case you will first need to seek at least one or more additional medical opinions.

Be sure to secure a copy of your father's autopsy report. It will be crucial in a later determination of the existence of malpractice. Also secure copies of all of his medical records, from the admitting forms to the physicians confirmation of the time, cause and manner of death.

Although it may be difficult, speak with as many of the attending nurses, and orderlies as possible. They may not want to speak with you, but try anyway.

Next, seek out several medical malpractice personal injury attorneys. You can contact your local State Bar Association for referrals. Speak with your friends as well. See if any of them had a positive experience with a medical malpractice attorney. If so, put that attorney on your list of attorneys to be interviewed.

Next go online. You want to seek out not only personal injury attorneys, but those with substantial experience in medical malpractice.

Next, with all your documentation in hand begin the interview process. Most personal injury medical malpractice attorneys will not charge for initial office consultations. Calling attorneys on the phone will be a waste of time, as most serious personal injury attorneys avoid speaking with potential clients who are out "tire kicking".

Most of the top-tier medical malpractice attorneys will not require any advance for costs for the case. Costs can include deposition fees, pre-trial court reporter assistance, filing fees, and the like. If any of the attorneys you interview ask for "up front" money, you might want to move on to the next one.

Finally, find an attorney who isn't only top-notch, but one you feel comfortable with. You want to be sure you will have a positive working relationship with the attorney, including responding to your reasonable inquiries during the representation period.

The Statute of Limitations, or "time period" in the State of Missouri for settling or filing a lawsuit in a personal injury case is five (5) years. So you have plenty of time.

Once you retain an attorney don't "second guess" her. Let her spend the bulk of her time fighting for your dad and his legacy. Trust her, and you should be fine.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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