Family’s Washington DC Wrongful Death Lawsuit Alleging Paramedic Malpractice Can Proceed, Says Judge

More than a year after the family of Edward Givens filed a $17 million DC wrongful death case against the District and Emergency Medical Services medical director Dr. James Augustine, a judge says that their lawsuit can proceed under a new statute.

Givens, 39, died on December 2, 2008 after paramedics, responding to call that he was having problems breathing and experiencing chest pains, didn’t take him to the hospital and instead told him that he had acid reflux and he should take Pepto Bismo. He died six hours after receiving the wrong diagnosis. In 2009, his family sued for DC paramedic malpractice and wrongful death.

The District has been combating the lawsuit, claiming that case law doesn’t allow someone hurt by an emergency worker to sue. However, after paramedics didn’t immediately treat New York Times journalist David Rosenbaum because they thought he was drunk (in fact, he was beaten during a robbery), the District settled his family’s paramedic malpractice case. The city council has since passed a statute allowing victims to hold paramedics liable for negligence.

In the Givens’ family’s wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff say that the medical worker who treated him lacked the knowledge to provide the standard of care required to treat someone who was suffering from his symptoms. They claim that Augustine should have realized that the paramedic did not have skills to do the job right. In fact, the Washington Times reported in 2009 that numerous DC paramedics did not meet the national standard in tests about basic lifesaving procedures and their medical knowledge.

Just as a good paramedic can save lives, a paramedic who lacks the training and skills to do a proper job can cause serious health complications and even death. Patients are owed a certain standard of care. When failure to provide that duty of causes serious injuries, the negligent medical provider can be held liable.

Family Files Wrongful Death Suit Against DC, MyFox, February 28, 2011
Rosenbaum Lawsuit Settled, The Washington Post, December 21, 2007

Related Web Resources:

$17 Million Washington DC Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against District and FEMS Medical Director Over Botched Response to Fatal Heart Attack, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, December 9, 2009
Washington DC Man Dies After Paramedics Diagnose Acid Reflux, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, December 8, 2008
Washington DC Paramedics Under Investigation in Death of 2-Year-Old Girl, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, March 4, 2010
Washington D.C. And Howard University Hospital Are Sued By Family Of New York Times Journalist For Wrongful Death, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, November 28, 2006

Contact Information