Science and Journalism in Society

Brandeis University JOUR 130B

Was it Medical Malpractice?

As the surgeon at NYU medical center is ready to close up his patients chest after a lengthy heart surgery, he accidentally pokes and small extra whole in her heart. For the next 48 hours the woman’s heart is beating twice as fast as it is suppose to and she is pretty touch and go. The doctors are not sure if they should open her up again or if the heart will heal itself. Having been sedated for the last couple of days, when the doctors decide to try and take her breathing tube out, they realize she still cannot breathe on her own. Before they sedate her again, she writes: “No flowers, no something (they could not read it), and no obituary”. Doctors and nurses wouldn’t even allow her significant other into the ICU room for more than 10 minutes at a time. What could possibly be going on in her mind? How does she feel? Does she actually know what is going on? Was this medical malpractice?

The doctors rushed a woman into surgery because they found scar tissue from a previous surgery clotted in her intestine. She had been unable to fully digest her food for a few days. At eighty years old, surgery is already a bit risky, but of course what adds to the complications is when the doctor accidentally punctures her lung, causing her lung to collapse and eventually goes into heart failure. The icing on the cake was that the doctors didn’t stitch her up correctly and soon after, she had an infection in her blood. Doctors and nurses told her family to expect the worse that she probably wasn’t going to make it. She spent two weeks in the ICU, another week in the hospital, touch and go for about half of it. After, she spent a month in a rehab facility. She had sores on the back of her head from lying in bed so much, endured weeks of physical therapy, used a walker to move around for the first time in her life, and had to undergo speech therapy. Was this medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is hard battle. It is an act or omission by a health care provider in which the treatment delivered is below the accepted standards of medicine and causes injury or death to the patient. It is important to acknowledge medical malpractice when it happens, even though it can be hard to justify. The case is generally complicated start to finish. It could take months, even years to complete. The cases are expensive, time consuming (taking off work), and sometimes-just plain impractical. There are many types of medical malpractice. Just a few are: incorrect incision, incomplete surgical procedure, and inappropriate postoperative care. Claims require sophisticated medical knowledge and strong defense from both sides, generally from experts in the field. Though the injury has to be physically damaging, the malpractice takes an emotional toll on the person and the family too. Even though these cases were accidental, they were definitely harmful. So, were these two situations malpractice?

*These two woman in the stories are related to me

1 Comment

  1. This is an incredibly important story and I hope you pursue it. First off, check your grammar and spelling throughout. Secondly, look into some of the data on surgical malpractice and see how common these kinds of cases are. I’m curious. A good journalist will expand this kind of personal story into an illustration of a much larger issue.

Comments are closed.

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)