A potential client called our office explaining how terribly they were treated at a medical facility and how they wanted to bring a medical malpractice claim against the hospital. They explained how they were there for the birth of their child and how the doctor promised they would do all the work, but when the baby came out, a resident was being instructed to perform some of the post-procedure tasks, which angered the family. Then, when meeting with the lactation consultant, the consultant made them feel guilty about feeding their baby through formula. They felt like the hospital tried to rush them out the door after they complained about the resident and were looking to see how a lawyer could help.
Our Client’s Fear
These potential clients had a bad hospital experience and did not know what to do about it.
How Garmey Law Helped
I spent about a half hour listening to their story, which did sound like a terrible experience. I made it a priority to ask, first and foremost, if their child was ok, which she was. I then made sure the mother was ok, which she was as well.
After reviewing their concerns, I explained that their claim would have fallen under a claim for medical malpractice. To prove that, in the State of Maine, a case has to go before a panel for professional negligence (a hearing before a court-appointed panel chair, a doctor, and a lawyer). That panel has to decide whether the medical standard of care was violated and whether that violation caused injuries. The medical standard of care has to be established by expert witnesses, and the process is very intense.
What they experienced was not a violation of the standard of care but poor customer service. Medically, everything that needed to be done was done and was done well. The issue they had was that their feelings weren’t considered, nor were their desired treatment options, when they were in the heat of the moment in the delivery room. Then, afterward, they were made to feel like they were doing something wrong, deciding for their child, and felt rushed out of the hospital. I explained to them that these likely do not rise to the level of medical malpractice violations of the standard of care, and even if they did, their remedy (damages) would likely be pretty low. But we then reviewed what they could reasonably do to ensure their voices were heard.
I reviewed with them how most hospitals have a patient advocate department that receives and reviews patient complaints regarding services they receive within a healthcare facility. They also could reach out to the State of Maine through the Department of Health & Human Services and open a complaint against the hospital for some of their concerns about patient safety and communication and how it made them feel. They could also contact the Joint Commission and complain to them about the customer service aspect of their healthcare experience, as patient experiences are a major component of how the Joint Commission reviews and accredits healthcare facilities.
Empowered with these three options, they no longer felt powerless. Though I was the 100th attorney to hear and reject their case (not actually 100, but it had been a lot of attorneys), it was the next steps that made the difference. They thanked me for the information and said they were immediately giving those agencies a call.