The importance of “History” in Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Cases

This short post is written after a Settlement Conference in a medical malpractice case I am currently trial counsel in in Michigan.

The claim is as follows:  Young diabetic woman begins vomiting at work and is taken by car to the Emergency Room.  There, she presents wheezing and short of breath.  She has a history of asthma as well as diabetes.  She is seen, examined, treated with breathing treatments and steroids for her asthma and discharged home. She leaves before seeing the attending emergency room physician, who testifies later he would have instructed her to monitor her blood sugars closely because of the steroids.

She goes home against medical advice.  At home she goes into tt coma because of Diabetic Ketoacidosis.  Her kidneys shut down and she has 2 weeks of intensive care at the hospital.

The problem with the case is that the Emergency Room record has no evidence or record, not on iota, of nausea of vomiting.  For a jury to believe that the patient had nausea and vomiting they would have to be persuaded that every nurse and physician who saw the patient neglected to record that complaint.  This demonstrates how important it is to emphasize your complaints and history to the nurses in triage, the physicians and nurses therafter etc….

In this case not only did the failure to  inform, or emphasize the nausea or vomiting ultimately cause the coma and kidney damage, it also caused the failure of the case.  Had they known about the nausea and vomiting she would have been admitted, hydrated and started on an insulin drip.  She would not have suffered DKA, which was brought on by the steroids.

It is up to you the patient, or a family member, to inform the nurses and doctors of the history and complaints, and to TELL THEM TWICE!!!

Comments

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