Visitor Question

Death from Inadequate Treatment at a Nursing Home…

Submitted By: Char (Cottonwood, AZ)

My husband was taken to our local medical hospital, he had fallen because of the walker he was using (had big wheels on front which caught in kitchen tile). He hurt his back and the doctor recommended his going to Emergency Room. He had an L1 Compressed fracture, very painful. A local MD told the head doctor for 45 minutes that he could take care of it, but instead they sent my husband to a local Rehab & Care(?)

After a couple of days they were medicating him so heavily we could not communicate. I found an article about a ‘new’ Rehab & Care about 25 miles away and got him an order to be transferred there in 10 days (then found out they were not ready to open it yet).

My husband was in the new rehab only 4 days and they called to tell me he was not responding. My neighbor said to put water on his lips when I got there and I brought him back after an hour dribbling water in his mouth. When he opened his eyes he grabbed the bottle. He was so thirsty and hungry! He ate his lunch and was not drugged that day. (They had even taken him to breakfast in a wheelchair in this condition in which he could not eat or take meds.)

He was on dialysis (a local VA nurse practitioner had him on a medication which destroyed his kidneys only 4 years before, but he lived with that-no problem).

Four weeks later he was given insulin at 5pm before dinner, I was there. Then, at 8pm he was given another injection and was found down 4-1/2hrs later.

He was taken to local ER and admitted to the ICU. He died 5 days later. On the death certificate it says says “hypoglycemic coma”. I have the nurses’ notes for these two days and it shows he never got the medical help needed. I only found out of this care with the nurses’ notes after his demise on 3/14/11. He always said He Wanted To Live!

Do I have a case?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Char,

From the facts you present it appears you may have a strong claim. The question will be against whom the claim should be pursued.

You can do the following:

Collect copies of every single medical record which in any manner relates to your husband’s treatment in each medical and rehabilitation facility. These records should start with the admitting forms and go through his discharge orders, and everything in between.

Also secure copies of all examinations and their results. These tests include, but should not be limited to:

— Blood and urine tests.

— X-rays.

— MRI’s (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

— CAT Scans (Computer Axial Tomography)

— Any other tests administered.

With all of the documentation in hand seek out several personal injury attorneys in your area. You want to find those with substantial experience in medical malpractice cases. The good news is that almost all personal injury attorneys will not charge any fee for an initial office consultation. The attorneys will need a reasonable amount of time to review the medical documentation. Don’t hesitate to leave it with them.

In the interim purchase a tape recorder and attach it to your telephone. You can find these at just about any Radio Shack store, and they are quite inexpensive.

It is perfectly legal to record a conversation between you and another person in the state of Arizona (it’s illegal in some other states). It is not legal for you to eavesdrop on other person’s conversations. If you are contacted by any representative from any of the medical or rehabilitation facilities and they want to discuss your husband’s case, do your best not to speak with them.

Instead, listen to what they have to say, but do your best not to respond in kind. Mark the date and time of the telephone calls and take notes. Bring this information to the attorneys as well.

Once the attorneys have all the documentation in hand they will be able to give you their expert opinion as to whether the evidence you have is substantial enough to support a medical malpractice claim.

Make sure you seek out the opinions of several attorneys and not just the first one you meet.

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

Best of luck,

Published: April 9, 2012

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