Lack of proper examination by doctor in emergency room...

by Arqwesha
(Sacramento, CA)

I took my 6 yr. old son to the hospital emergency room because his pediatrician's office was closed. My son had several spreading wounds on his legs, the original injury was on his bicycle 1 week ago, since then several small sores erupted on his legs. In the exam room the nurse walked in and said "OMG these are burns." I said no they aren't and that I needed to find out why these other sores just popped up all over his legs overnight.

She took a picture of only the 2 biggest ones and didn't bother to take a picture of the small ones to see how they started out like I requested. She said she needed to go show the doctor the pictures. She came back and treated my son as if he really had a burn she poured water on his wound and then bandaged it up. I said what exactly is it that he has? She said "we don't know." She then gave me discharge papers.

I was in total shock the doctor never came in the room to examine my son or had any blood work or tests done, and my son was in extreme pain by this time. I could not believe that I left the hospital and still did not know what was wrong with my son. About 3 hours later they sent CPS (Child Protective Services) to my house to investigate his suspected wound.

When I took my son to his pediatrician's office the next day, upon the doctor's examination he automatically knew he had a severe bacterial infection in his legs called cellulitis. He recognized that within 10 seconds of examining him. However by this time the lesions had multiplied, grown bigger, and became more painful.

I want to know if I can sue the hospital for medical malpractice for breech of standard of care. I feel that if the emergency room doctor had done his job and examined my son properly he would have known he had cellulites and not just assumed he was burned by the picture the nurse showed him. My son's infection could have been treated a lot sooner. Do I have a case? Thank you.

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ANSWER for "Lack of proper examination by doctor in emergency room...":

Arqwesha (Sacramento, CA):

From the facts you present it appears your son's wounds began at least a week before your trip to the emergency room. It seems unreasonable to assume all his sores suddenly appeared the night before you took him to the emergency room. As a result, it seemed entirely reasonable for the nurse to take photographs and report you to CPS.

The emergency room doctor seems to have been negligent in his or her decision to examine your son. Such behavior, in the face of your son's obvious wounds seems questionable at best. You have a right to report him to your state's medical board. If they believe your claim to be merited, they will conduct an investigation.

There doesn't seem to be any evidence of medical malpractice. Unless you can prove your son's injuries substantially worsened overnight, any claim you might consider would likely fail.

Additionally, finding a personal injury attorney to accept your case might be difficult, but you should visit with several nonetheless. Most personal injury attorneys don't charge for an initial office consultation.

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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