Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sue Happy?

 We often get asked why we haven't sued anyone due to all the "mistakes" with Owen's care.We have actually consulted a few attorneys. We hear all the time in the media about how medical costs are so expensive because of all the frivolous lawsuits.  I'm just not sure who is filing all those lawsuits because the process isn't really that easy. First you have to find a lawyer who actually takes medical malpractice cases. If you live in a large city that might not be very difficult. In the midsized city closest to our tiny little town( we don't even have a single stoplight, let alone a lawyer) , there were only two. Then you have to see if they will take your case. We were turned down by one lawyer because our problem occurred at the only hospital in our county and the lawyer wouldn't take cases against them in case he ever needed to use the hospital. He didn't want to risk his own care by being known as "that lawyer who sues us all the time". We were told another lawyer wouldn't take our case because their daughter used the same hospital Owen had been at.

 Then there are the merits of the case. The medical industry has certain standards of care and if a doctor has followed those standards, they probably can't be sued even if those standards weren't appropriate for that patient. When Owen was born the doctor chose to send me home based on the point I was at in my labor. That decision matched the standard of care. It wasn't the right decision for Owen and I, but they could show that most doctors would have sent me home. With the EEG case, she did not follow the standard, but then we have to be able to prove that his problems were caused or greatly worsened by that incident. We would have to prove that it wasn't just the natural course of his disease. That would require expert medical witnesses. Doctors don't want to testify against each other. It is really hard to get another doctor to admit that a previous doctor did something wrong, let alone admit that it caused serious problems for the patient.

 Then there is cost. Lawsuits are EXPENSIVE! There are lawyers who will take a case without getting paid until a settlement, but only if they think there is a very good chance of winning and only if they can make a lot of money off the case. There was no way we could afford to pay upfront, especially with all the expenses related to Owen's care. Without paying a large retainer we would have had to sue everyone and anyone for as much as we possibly could sue for. We wouldn't be able to just sue for actual damages since that wouldn't be enough payoff for an attorney to want to gamble on our case. They pay the costs involved with the case ( filing fees, letters, researchers,experts, etc.) in the hopes that they will make enough in the end to pay for everything plus make a nice profit. It isn't worth it for them to take a small case.

 Lawsuits also take a long time! It's very stressful too. We have friends who have way more documentation about the malpractice their daughter endured and they have just, after 5 years, gotten a small settlement on one of their smaller cases. All of that money went to pay for the larger case. Five years of fighting and they still don't have any money for their daughter's care. We decided we just don't have the mental energy to pursue a lawsuit. Our biggest concern has been to make sure these things never happen again to any child. We have filed complaints with the hospitals involved and with the state licensing agency. The doctor who mishandled Owen's birth is no longer practicing in our state. I don't know if it is related to our case or not and I don't know if she can go to other states or not, but she's not here anymore. We haven't really heard anything about the EEG tech. I keep meaning to follow up on what happened besides the "talking to" the hospital gave her, but I've been so busy with Owen's care I haven't had the chance.


  1. Thanks for explaining... I guess I'm one of the people asking why you haven't sued. It makes sense... but it's a shame. I hope you are able to catch up on sleep... and congratulations on getting a little more time to sort out the access issue. Have a good weekend! :)

    1. Maura, You were one, but I've had several people we know in person ask too. Even the attorney we're using for our house issue thought we should sue and referred us to a medical malpractice attorney he knows. that's actually where we decided it would be more than we could emotionally handle right now.