Visitor Question

Discharged home with broken knee…

Submitted By: Nicole (Orlando, Florida)

My sister, an uninsured 33 year old female, was hit by a car while riding her bicycle home from work. Her leg was instantly swollen. She was evaluated in the ER and offered morphine, and then finally (after 3 hours) she had a CAT scan. They then realized her knee was broken. She was then DISCHARGED HOME!

They called and told her to come back because she would require surgery. She came back to the ER this morning and is awaiting a surgery date. I find it appalling and wonder if this qualifies as medical malpractice?

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 Nicole,

You may be mistaken. It is very, very rare for an emergency room, or for that matter, any doctor to prescribe morphine for a swollen leg. Even if the emergency room doctor had determined at the time of your sister’s primary evaluation that her leg was broken, she would very likely not have been prescribed morphine.

Morphine is normally prescribed for terminally ill patients suffering from very painful cancer, for our service men and woman seriously injured on the battlefield, and for other extremely serious cases.

For your sister to have the basis of a medical malpractice claim the time between her original diagnosis and subsequent surgery would have to be more than a day or so. While a misdiagnosis is certainly regrettable, mistakes will be made. Unless those medical mistakes result in unnecessary pain and discomfort which is prolonged, or in a permanent injury, a malpractice claim will likely not succeed.

Your facts don’t indicate the duration of time between your sister being discharged and then returning for a surgery date. Additionally, the fact that your sister is being “scheduled” for surgery indicates her knee doesn’t present an emergency. If that was the case, surgery would be relatively immediate, and not scheduled for a later time.

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: November 12, 2013

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