According to a report issued last week by the city’s Office of the Inspector General, the paramedic who told Edward L. Givens to take Pepto-Bismol for acid reflux hours before the 39-year-old suffered a fatal heart attack was either unaware of or failed to follow a number of department protocols. Givens died on December 2, 2008 after paramedics failed to take him to the hospital when he called to report chest pains and breathing problems. He died six hours later. His family would go on to file a $17 million Washington DC medical malpractice case against the District and Emergency Medical Services alleging wrongful death.
Although initially the District had sought to have the case dismissed on the grounds that case law doesn’t permit someone hurt by an emergency worker to sue for medical malpractice, earlier this year a judge said that because of a new statute letting victims hold paramedics liable for negligence, the DC wrongful death lawsuit could proceed.
According to this latest report, even though Givens declined to go to the hospital after paramedics asked him multiple times if he wanted to go, the emergency responders should have done more to convince him. One emergency worker reportedly told Givens when he asked if he needed to go to the hospital that it was up to him. The inspector general’s report also found that emergency workers were at fault for not recording key information on Givens’ peatient care report, such as his age, first name, medical history, and interactions with family members.
The Washington Times conducted an investigation in 2009 that found that many DC paramedics were unable to pass basic writing tests about medical knowledge. Some even were unable to correctly conduct basic life-saving methods.
Wrong diagnosis and delayed diagnosis are two of the more common types of medical errors. They can cause serious injury or death. Paramedics, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals should be properly trained and know what to do when treating patients. Failure to provide a certain duty of care can be grounds for a DC medical malpractice case.
D.C.’s IG faults paramedic response to 2008 ‘acid reflux’ case, The Washington Times, June 8, 2011
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Family’s Washington DC Wrongful Death Lawsuit Alleging Paramedic Malpractice Can Proceed, Says Judge, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, March 9, 2011
Washington DC Paramedics Under Investigation in Death of 2-Year-Old Girl, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, March 4, 2010
Anne Arundel County Wrongful Death Lawsuit Claims 911 and Police Officers Botched Emergency Call, Maryland Accident Blog, August 3, 2010