Suit Alleges that Emergency Room Staff Failed Patient at Lakeway Hospital
Filing a lawsuit against emergency room doctors is much more difficult than filing one against surgeons, specialists, and general practitioners. Emergency room personnel are held to a lower standard than other kinds of doctors because they’re expected to make split-second life-and-death decisions and generally carry out their duties well. However, there are medical malpractice lawsuits brought against emergency room staff and they are sometimes successful.
A recent lawsuit illustrates this point. Rawny McVaney has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Lakeway also naming certain personnel. McVaney alleges that the emergency room staff showed a willful disregard of his condition and is suing the hospital for what will likely be both compensatory and punitive damages. Below, we’ll discuss the particulars of this case.
McVaney Comes to the Hospital with Muscle Weakness in Arm and Legs
McVaney alleges that he came to the hospital with advancing weakness in his arms and legs. In response, the hospital sent him home with a sedative and McVaney received only cursory examinations. Later that evening a friend of the family who also happened to be a doctor, diagnosed McVaney with Guillain-Barre Syndrome which is a rare untreatable illness. Upon investigation, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission found the hospital in violation of state regulations concerning patient care in regards to McVaney’s case. However, this may not be enough for McVaney to win his civil suit against the hospital.
There are two major impediments to McVaney’s case. Firstly, the correct diagnosis was quite rare. Secondly, the emergency medical staff are held to a lower standard of care than other health professionals. In medical malpractice lawsuits, the plaintiff must be able to show that the doctor or other health professions failed to render the prevailing standard of care in their field. Since the prevailing standard of care is lower for emergency personnel, these lawsuits present unique problems for plaintiffs.
There is one other problem that McVaney faces in bringing this lawsuit against the hospital. There may have been nothing that the hospital could have done to prevent the disability that McVaney has now. Treatment can help reduce Guillain-Barre Syndrome symptoms, but the disease cannot be cured. This blurs the line between what injuries were caused by the hospital’s negligence and what injuries were caused by the inevitable progression of the disorder.
Nonetheless, Guillain-Barre Syndrome presents a problem for emergency room staff who, in at least one other case in Texas, failed to correctly diagnose the disorder. Since acute symptoms of Guillain-Barre come and go, it’s likely that the correct treatment could have reduced McVaney’s symptoms a great deal. However, McVaney’s only injury, in this case, is pain and suffering which will be calculated based on the presumed reduction of symptoms he would have had if the hospital had diagnosed and treated the illness correctly.
In other words, it’s a complicated case.
Talk to a Houston, Texas Personal Injury Attorney
The Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers, P.L.L.C. provide our clients with tailored representation that meets their individual needs. If you’ve been the victim of medical negligence, call us today or talk to us online to set up a free consultation.