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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Legal Matters

I have had a helluva few weeks here, since the attorney, who I thought was taking the medical malpractice case, who repeatedly told me "not to worry" for this past year and half, has bowed out. The reason, he says, is because Bob had "pre-existing medical conditions".

I tell you, I do not understand this at all. As what do "pre-existing medical conditions" have to do with the simple fact that no one in ICU noticed Bob was having a stroke?

I still have nightmarish visions of that night/early morning. Visions of Bob lying in that hospital bed, helpless, as a dark curtain is being slowly pulled over his brain, minute by precious minute, hour by hour, causing more and more brain cells to die... and the critical care nurses are doing--what? Having a cup of coffee?

Every time I see one of those posters, you know the ones, that say "Time Is Brain" and tell you to get to a hospital the minute a stroke is suspected, I cringe...

Bob had been in ICU for post-surgery recovery. He had, earlier that day, an endarterectomy which is the surgical removal of a clot in his carotid artery. The doctors had told him, really freaked him out, that if he didn't have this surgery, he would have a massive stroke. So he had the surgery. The surgery "went well" according the surgeon. I sat with him in ICU, after the surgery, while he ate his supper, complaining the whole time because all they gave him was soup and jello and he was hungry. He called me early that night, to remind me to bring his razor in the morning, to tell me "good night" and "I love you", and jeepers, that was the last real conversation I had with him....

And when I come into ICU in the morning, at 9:00 a.m., (I could kick myself for this, wasting another few precious minutes) the first thing I notice is someone has taken the chair out of Bob's room. So I go off to look for a chair, only glancing at Bob, thinking him asleep. Finally, getting a chair and while putting my things down, the nurse comes in with Bob's breakfast tray. She puts it on his table and helps Bob sit up, but he is having trouble sitting up, keeps slipping down, so she gets him sort of sitting up and she leaves the room. So, I go to him and realize that something is terribly wrong. Not only can Bob not sit up, his face is drooping, and he is trying to speak, but can't, just making noises, and undissolved pills fall out of his mouth, and oh my god--I run after that nurse who asks me, "Isn't your husband always like that?"

Who tells me, "I didn't think he seemed right this morning."

Who clocked in, that morning, at 7:00 a.m.

Who, when I give her the pills that fell out of Bob's mouth, tosses them in the trash can and tells me, "Don't worry about those."

Who, believe me, I would've strangled right then and there, if I wasn't freaking out so badly.

And later, after they "rushed" Bob back into surgery, to have his carotid artery re-opened and re-cleaned out. Later, after the CAT scans were done, a neurologist would tell me that he was "very sorry" but "too much time had passed without oxygen" to Bob's brain and that my husband would not recover...

And what, I ask you, does "pre-existing medical conditions" have to do with that scenario?

So I am scrambling to find a new lawyer at this late date. The statute of limitations runs out next month.  Time's a-wasting. And it may already be too late. Even with a 90 day extension.

And our now ex-attorney does not have the medical records, for some reason.

So I take Bob down to the hospital to sign for a whole new set of records. We did that on August 25th and we still don't have the records. Because for some darn reason, they are being processed out of state. And everyday I have been calling this "copy center" who is "processing" the paperwork, and everyday I am told they are still "being processed"....

I tell you, I'm about having a nervous breakdown here.

And it's not about the money. Well, it is about the money, but it's not about getting rich off our tragedy. It's about having enough money to be able to provide Bob with the care he needs for the rest of his life. Because living on a fixed income is not easy, especially with all these doctors co-pays and prescriptions and therapy and Medicare being as crummy as it is--not to mention all the equipment, specialized therapies, etc., out there to help a person in Bob's condition, which we cannot afford.

Call me crazy, but I do think they should pay for this...

So tomorrow, I will be back on the phone screaming at the copy center, and if, when, I get the records, putting them in order and praying and praying I can get an attorney who will take the case...

Trying not to completely flip out.

Trying to do this between two therapy appointments and two doctors appointments scheduled this week.

If this blog is quiet this coming week, you'll know why.


Jenn said...

If there is anything you can think of that I may be of assistance with, plase let me know. I was also thinking there must be a law regarding the timely delivery of medical records?

Anonymous said...

I did not know your story, this is the first time I have heard it. It is horriable..I can only imagine how you felt in that icu...I hope and pray you find some damn good lawyer help..

Kelsae said...

You don't know me, but I'm sending you hugs over the internet right now. Paperwork is always a nightmare, but legal complications like yours sound like hell.

We had a few poor nurses when Mike was hospitalized, but the neglect your husband experienced is making me queasy right now. I want to strangle that nurse.

Good luck with the lawyer and processing center. And there's no shame in breaking down and pigging out on Ben and Jerry's mid week to recoup some energy.

Rebecca Dutton said...

When you described the changes in Bob the nurse should have performed quick neuro checks, like squeeze my hands and stick out your tongue. If one hand is weaker and the tongue deviates to one side it suggests one side of the brain is not working. The ICU should have had a doctor on call that the nurse could contact if the neuro checks were worrisome. Negligence have nothing to do with a pre-existing condition.

barbpolan said...

Your entire story is profoundly morally and ethically wrong ... no one should be allowed to do what happened to Bob and not be responsible for the financial consequences.

Given that stroke is a risk of any surgery, shouldn't there be periodic checks for stroke in post-surgical patients? It seems like an obvious solution ... maybe have patient use two hands to reach for their meds or stick out their tongue every time BP, temp and O2 are taken.

metalgirl162002 said...

Yes, I think it's the hospital's fault. They should have checked when you were complaining something was wrong! Good luck with the lawyers!

Anonymous said...

As I read your blog, my first thought was, "what the hell?" I just don't understand the lawyers thinking nor do I understand their reasoning. I would think that this would be a fairly easy case for them to handle. I'm so sorry all this is coming down on you now with all the other issues you are dealing with. You are in my prayers as always. Hugs, Dan

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GirlWithTheCane said...

Wow, what a story. I had a stroke after surgery as well, but I had a seizure along with the stoke, so there was something to tell them that something was wrong.

But your husband had easily detectable stroke signs as well, and they should have been monitoring him more closely to begin with, it sounds like. I'm no lawyer, but I'd say that the hospital definitely has some accountability here, and I hope that you find someone that can help you with that.

Take care of yourself as best you can too, okay? That's important.