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Mother's Death South Carolina

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Debra Watson

i took my 66 year old mother to her family practitioner of 12 years after a week's worth of illness on January 4, 2001. She complained of severe pain in her chest and back,was so weak she couldn't walk on her own, couldn't catch her breath. he told us she didn't sound as congested as he thought she would. he ordered blood drawn and sent us for an outpatient xray he wouldn't see until the next day, then sent her home with antobiotics. the xray technician looked concerned after viewing the xray, took it to the doctor on call, but both decided to let me take her home until her doctor reviewed the xray. Through the night she was not able to sleep for severe pain in her back and chest. She told me this same doctor had missed pnemonia in her chest before. I called her doctor's on call physician at 2:30a.m. and he said it sounds like she needs to go to the hospital if she is having that much pain. She did not want to go out in the cold night and refused repeatedly. Her husband had passed away 45 days earlier so her marale was down and her doctor knew this. At or around 8:30a.m. she passed away. I had phoned her doctor's office promptly at 8:00 a.m. and was waiting by the phone for them to call back. They did not call until 10:15a.m. with the news that she had pnemonia in two quadrants of her lungs and needed to be in the hospital, but it was already too late by then. my questions are, is this a case, against the doctor and outpatient hospital, and approximately how long do most malpratice cases like this run from the death to the conclusion? A ballpark idea would be helpful. I have endured a great deal of guilt, loss, blame from my sibling, ect. Any advise you can give will be very much appreciated.
Thank You,
Debra Watson


Senior Member
As stated in your post, it would be highly unlikely you could win a lawsuit. If your mother was in such poor condition, did you consider other options such as calling 911? Your mother refused personal transportation and as such must be considered partially at fault. And what was the cause for delay in seeking medical treatment prior to the first doctor visit if she was in such poor shape? And the questions asked by a defense attorney in court will be a whole lot tougher than these.
Also, in most states, as an adult child, you have no legal standing to sue for medical malpractice. Only the victim, spouse, or minor children (through other parent or guardian) would be allowed to sue. I would highly recommend you see a local attorney that is familiar with your state laws.


I am sorry about your mother's death, it sounds as if it was too late to save her in any case. However, the doctor at the hospital (not the xray tech) who looked at the xray should have notified the radiologist, that is who reads the xrays, not your doctor. Was this late at night, was the radiologist there? Xrays showing this magnitude of disease (or injury) are usually phoned into the referring physician on an emergent basis. It seems to me, as an x-ray tech, that more should have been done to notify your doctor that there was a serious problem.

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