The next shift was at 8:00 A.M. and the ER staff nurses were endorsing their patients to the incoming workers. It was like any other day at the ER. But shortly after eight, a seven-year-old child was rushed to the hospital by her parents. Physically, there seemed to be nothing wrong with her, except that she was squirming and crying very loudly. Well, that is expected since a lot of children just don’t like to be inside a hospital. However, the parents were in a panic because they said that the child just fell down the stairs. No one saw the fall, so they didn’t know if the child bumped her head. Just to be sure, the doctor at the ER requested an x-ray since he noticed a bump on the child’s head. The x-ray came, and in order to be sure that there wasn’t any need to worry, a surgeon was called in to interpret the results. The surgeon took a look at the x-ray and said that it was fine. The fall just caused a slight swelling, which will readily resolve with some ice and time.
Shortly before the ER staff’s 8-hour shift ended, the parents were back again with the child. This time, however, the child seemed to be asleep. One of the nurses on duty immediately thought that something was wrong, and this was verified by the worried and panicked expressions on the parents’ faces. “She is not waking up,” the father said. That got the nurse really troubled because she knew that the child bumped her head earlier, and for her to lose consciousness in just a few hours might be a sign of intracranial bleeding. She called the doctor, who then got in touch with the surgeon who read the x-ray earlier.
The young patient was direly in need of a craniotomy, wherein a surgeon drills a hole in the skull to relieve pressure. Internal bleeding caused by a head injury puts extreme pressure on the brain. This causes drowsiness, loss of consciousness, and even death. If resolved quickly, the patient could recover quickly. But delay can cause more serious damage to the brain, and the patient may not be able to fully recover in such cases.
When the surgeon checked the x-ray again, it was then that he realized that there was a hairline fracture which was probably causing the child’s intracranial hemorrhage. He immediately ordered an emergency craniotomy. Luckily, the child survived it all.
Who Is To Blame?
In cases like these wherein a doctor’s negligence leads to life-threatening conditions, who is to blame? In our story, we would conclude that it was the surgeon, or it might be the entire healthcare team. It was fortunate that the patient survived, but what if she didn’t? Doctors do make mistakes, and when they do, their errors could lead to someone’s death or cause a permanent debilitating condition.
Suing for Medical Malpractice
Every patient has the right to quality care. When slip-ups occur, excuses, like the doctor was too tired or the nurse was suffering from a severe headache, are not acceptable. Healthcare workers need to provide professional care. If they are not capable of doing that, then they should not be handling patients.
When a healthcare professional makes a mistake and this causes injury to another, his license can be suspended or revoked. The victim should also consider suing for medical malpractice in order to get compensation, particularly if the injury brought about permanent and debilitating injuries. A victim or a victim’s family should get in touch with a personal injury attorney who specializes in medical malpractice. The lawyer can assist with gathering evidence, filing papers to the civil court, and preparing for hearings.
- U.S.Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia. “120602-N-GL340-141″. June 1, 2012. Online image. Flickr. November 22, 2012.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Claire Taylor is a freelance writer and a registered nurse. She blogs about illnesses, disease-causing organisms, and other healthcare issues. She also writes for Spencer Fielding, a personal injury lawyer who specializes in auto injuries, medical malpractice, and other injuries.