What constitutes medical negligence?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 24, 2016
Froggiegyrl asked...

My father was given a PICC line during a hospital stay, and then he died from a blood clot. He was never prescribed any blood thinners, and then I found out it's usually mandatory to take these medications if you have a PICC line. Could someone have made a mistake - is this negligence on their part?


Expert Answers

Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N. and Attorney is the author of author of The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents. She has over 40 years of combined experience in her two professions. As a nurse, she has extensive experience with geriatrics, chronic illness, pain management, dementias, disability, family dynamics, and death and dying. As a trial attorney, she advocated for for the rights of injured individuals and neglected elders. She is also co-founder of AgingParents.com.

Your question asks about the issue of medical negligence. As a former litigator for 27 years, I can say that it is a very complex question, and one that cannot be answered without a review of all the relevant medical records by a competent attorney who is experienced in handling this kind of case, as well as possible review by a medical expert. The issue of negligence has multiple dimensions, and is influenced by what lawyers call the "standard of care". That is a measure against which the facts of your particular situation are viewed. Experts for one side may have one opinion as to the standard of care in a particular case, while the opposing side or sides may have differing opinions.

If you are concerned about this and want to have your matter reviewed for a lawyer's opinion on it, be sure you find the right kind of lawyer. I discuss the specifics of how to find one and how to tell if the one you are thinking of retaining for the job is right for this special kind of matter in a booklet, "How to Find A Good Lawyer For Mom or Dad", available on my website (search Products). If you need legal advice, and I recommend that you get it, be a good consumer and shop carefully for the right lawyer. Bear in mind that every state has laws regarding how long you have to make a claim or file a case for medical negligence in court. These are called statutes of limitations. Because there are a lot of legal rules about timing and they are quite rigid, you should get legal advice right away. If you miss the time limits on any part of the claim, any rights that you have can be lost for good. So, in summary, address your concerns by getting proper legal advice to find out if there was medical negligence, and do it promptly.