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Jim Lewis
Jim Lewis
Attorney • (800) 752-0042

A Patient’s Rights: Night in the Hospital

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According to an article in Reader’s Digest, fatal accidents in a hospital tend to be more common during late night shifts and weekends, leading to an increase in medical malpractice. Hospital neglect is an absolutely unnecessary reason why many patients have suffered from illnesses that could have otherwise been prevented.

For example, a fifteen year old boy named Lewis voluntarily elected to undergo surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital to correct a birth defect called pectus excavatum, more commonly known as sunken chest. Although there were no current, significant respiratory problems, he and his family decided it would be best if Lewis obtained extra breastbone support in order to avoid possible respiratory complications in the future. The three day recovery period following the elective surgery turned into something the family would have never imagined. Toradol, the painkiller, couldn’t stop Lewis’ excruciating pain coming from his stomach after the operation. After insisting the problem was nothing more than gas, the nurses and doctor who performed the surgery left Lewis, with a dropping temperature and rising heartbeat.

The boy’s mother shrieked for help as Lewis’ complexion began to go white, and a doctor finally answered the call. His parents and sister watched in horror and shock as this boy slipped away in front of them, from a minor routine surgery he should have recovered from. Lewis bled internally until his body gave out in front of a family that had no idea he was even near death. What caused this bleeding? Toradol. If a senior doctor had been on staff during the night, the symptoms might have been recognized and even prevented.

$950,000 from the Medical University was accepted as settlement; a lawsuit wasn’t even needed. Lewis’ mother, now a patient advocate, helped pass the Lewis Blackman Hospital Safety Act, requiring all hospital employees in South Carolina to not only call a doctor immediately upon request from a patient, but also (for the physician to) wear some sort of indication of their rank. Mothers Against Medical Errors was founded by Lewis’ mother and will continue to enforce hospital and other health facility procedures to ensure safety for all patients.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, as well as the Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY, who handle car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more.