Daily Reads

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hmmmm.... Should I be contacting a malpractice lawyer about now?

I think I've described some of my family's "Fun at the ER" from the other week - 3 trips in fivedays, and the first one was pointless.  That it is the ER at the hospital where I work just added insult to injury.

All told that visit was bad enough that the following Monday I contacted our "Patient Advocate" and gave her the whole story and was assured that she would be looking into it.  I hadn't heard back by this past Friday (10 days later) so I left her another message.

Monday I got a call from the nursing manager for the ER, and she'd really like to talk to me about my daughter's experience.  So she stopped by after lunch and we talked for about half an hour.  Basically, there are protocols for dealing with headache patients, and they involve placing them in quiet rooms.  Room 8A, a sort of anteroom to a double resus bay, is NOT a quiet room by definition.  So I've been assured that staff will be reminded that patient complaint is an important consideration when deciding which room to place them in.  I also got a lot of explanation of why the Dr in question might not have wanted to give Phenergan, nor start out with a head CT.  I agreed, but said my concern was that after three doses of the same medicine which just exacerbated her symptoms, perhaps changing medicine or starting some testing might have been reasonable, rather than just discharging us.

I got to talk to the chief ER physician yesterday.  Again, said I understood the concern with head CTs, and why they wouldn't have started out with one, given that there was a chance this headache was a reaction to a  new medication, and that there is a need to keep radiation exposure to a minimum especially with growing children.  Apparently the treating physician had thought we wanted to leave quickly.  I said well, given that we had been there six hours, and the only plan had been to keep repeating doses of medication which made things worse, leaving seemed a viable option.  What I really wanted was either some actual testing or a change in medication, and yes, Phenergan can have some unpleasant temporary side-effects (which is why it is given with Benedryl), but those side effects which only last a few minutes are preferable to a blinding headache which has lasted hours and looks to continue that way.  Also, seeing that neither Dilaudid nor Percocet had had any effect, I didn't understand why the only script we were given was for Vicodin.  Which unsurprisingly didn't help either.

So to recap, I've had two fairly high level managers spend half an hour each apologizing to me for how my daughter wasn't treated during an ER visit and promising further investigation.  Which to my suspicious little mind means that they are concerned that I could sue.  Given that there was no attempt to find out why the headache didn't respond to the medicine, and that there is a family history of brain aneurysms, if I didn't need to keep my job, I'd be tempted to find a lawyer and find out.

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