Hospital Malpractice Next Steps

26 posts in this topic

Hi All,

I’m really hoping someone may be able to offer some advice on the below. It’s been a very traumatic and stressful period and any information you can give on the difference between the options would be much appreciated.

I went into hospital recently for what should have been a straight forward procedure (two night‘s stay max and then home to recover. 

Unfortunately due to surgical error either from inexperience or disregard(from what we have managed to piece together), I ended up in ICU followed by a week in the same hospital barely able to speak or move. I was then transferred to a specialist hospital due to both short and long term complications resulting from the surgery for another week, followed by multiple follow up appointments after returning home. 

 

The hospital have been unwilling to give any information whatsoever about what happened, I am experiencing that ‚wall of silence‘. After chasing and chasing after requesting my medical notes / all data held sending my medical notes - there is absolutely no information about the circumstances leading up to the operation being abandoned ( I was assured that the procedure was carried out, only to find out from the second hospital and further scans on returning home that the procedure was not in fact carried out - and that I will need to have a further operation. This is something I can’t even contemplate after the experience I had, I’m honestly too scared).

 

There have been a whole host of medical issues resulting directly from the operation - and have been advised by both hospitals that I need to seek trauma counselling. 


  Talking to the hospital team has been worthless - we have dealt with straight up  lies, pleading ignorance and plain refusal to give any information so please don’t advise sitting with the surgical team. I understand  that it can be incredibly difficult to pursue medical negligence in Germany, and perhaps nothing will come from this but I won’t be able to put it behind me without some answers and acknowledgment of what has taken place.


As far as I understand there are really only three choices open to us:

1. Schlichtungsstelle Arzt, which I understand is the medical arbitration board. 

I have to say that i really don’t understand this option - they seem to do everything on your behalf (request all documents/second opinion from a doctor on their team/legal advice), but I’m insure how they are able to be completely objective. As far as I understand they need consent from the hospital (regarding willingness to engage), and seem to have funding ties to hospital’s insurance company (I’m not sure if this is completely correct).

2. Health insurance, who say once we have provided them with all documents, anything missing will be down to us to try to get. They will provide a second opinion from a doctor based purely on what we are able to retrieve from the hospital and submit .  Legal advice will not be given.

3. Finding a solicitor now and getting them to do everything on our behalf - no idea whether this is worth it at such an early stage, and of course concerned about the cost of this option.
 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated in regards to the three options / anything specific that may be worth knowing about / anything I haven’t considered.

 

Thank you for reading 

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I'd say definitely option 3. From what I've heard, the Schlichtungsstelle seems to be a bit biased against the patient and, in my own experience, the health insurance companies are fairly useless as a patient advocate. The German legal system tends to be extremely stingy when it comes to compensating pain and suffering in general, so it's especially important to have good legal representation in a serious case like this.

 

There are a couple of things you can google: Anwalt Behandlungsfehler Berlin and Anwalt Arzthaftung Berlin are just a couple. Many of them will speak English if that's a factor. I'd suggest you call around and ask. Do you have legal insurance? Even if you don't, I think you'll be better off with a good lawyer in the end.

 

Best of luck to you and please post an update.

 

 

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I agree- definitely need  a lawyer, specialised in Medical malpractice .  

Sorry to hear of your experience.  I think you do need to get answers for this , so you can move forward with your life.

Good luck.

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El Jeffo, thank you that’s actually incredibly helpful - I was worried that this would be the case. Unfortunately we don’t have legal insurance, but will have a search of the above and have a think about setting up an initial consultation or two to get some idea of timelines / fees etc 

And

RedMidge, finally getting some answers and moving on would be amazing after all this.

 

Thank you both for your replies 

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Since you don't have legal insurance, you probably should find out more information before contacting a lawyer.

 

You might want to call the Patientenbeauftragte für Berlin first and see if she can help you get all your medical records from the hospital. 

 

https://www.berlin.de/lb/patienten/

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Hi Engelchen,

 

i think this is really the initial part of the problem - getting all the information before going any further. 

 

We made the request for full disclosure of my medical records shortly after leaving the 2nd hospital. After must chasing, calling, chasing we received a bunch of documented very much lacking any relevant information.

No information on the reason for me ending up in ICU - nothing in terms of how exactly xyz managed to occur and what took place between what looks like 2.2 lost hours 

No information on what treatment I received in ICU 

No information in regards to some of the complications resulting from the surgery that were present before I was shipped off 

No information in regards to the aim of the operation and that xyz is still present - it reads as though xyz never existed 

I could go on, but you get the idea. I do at least have the documents from the 2nd hospital and specialist in regards to the complications so at least these can’t be denied.

 

My health insurance did explain (before requesting) that there is a good chance that the information released may be sparse - it is, and it looks as though some things may not have been document at all . I only say this as this is the only way that I can imagine that so much information is missing. 

 

I will have a look at the link above, thank you - not sure if they can advise , but worth a try.

 

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42 minutes ago, WalkerRunner said:

My health insurance did explain (before requesting) that there is a good chance that the information released may be sparse - it is, and it looks as though some things may not have been document at all . I only say this as this is the only way that I can imagine that so much information is missing. 

 

I will have a look at the link above, thank you - not sure if they can advise , but worth a try.

 

 

The hospital could be stonewalling or they were busy and didn't document or some combination of the two. 

 

The office to which I linked above is part of the Ministry of Health and is supposed to aide patients under these circumstances. I don't know whether or not she can exert pressure on the hospital, but I think it is a good place to start. 

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Engelchen that sounds like a fantastic place to start.

Really appreciate the information, thank you. I’ll contact them tomorrow.

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Katheliz .. in another life time I could raise a hint of a smile - I’d say that’s a shockingly close to the bone take on reality 😢

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Observational comedy hits the nail right on the head. Manipulation tactics in plain sight. Nicely exposed. I suggest that clip might actually be useful to your lawyer as an illustration of the obstruction you are encountering. It's bang on. Which is why Ricky Gervaise is so successful.

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They don't always go like this, but the patients have to have a really good case. There was one at the hospital I worked for - it involved a 5-year-old who died - and two surgeons and the anesthesiologist were involved. One surgeon escaped being charged because he had cared for the child since birth and he cried with the family; he was supposed to be learning the procedure. The other surgeon was so guilty, and had a bad background like the 3-strike guy in the movie. 
Yes, hospitals have a major defense mechanism built up against malpractice cases. It's disgusting when they evade justice.

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Check out other patients who may have overheard conversations. In Regarding Henry, the defending attorneys suppress remarks heard by another patient; revelation of this tactic is part of the movie's happy ending. Past employees may also have information.

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There can be a very fine line between gross negligence and doing your inadequate human best in very difficult circumstances. Doctors are not magicians with all the answers, though this case obviously went very badly wrong. I wish the OP all the strength she can muster for what lies ahead. Good luck.

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18 hours ago, WalkerRunner said:

Finding a solicitor

You might want to look for a "Fachanwalt für Medizinrecht".

 

18 hours ago, WalkerRunner said:

I was assured that the procedure was carried out, only to find out from the second hospital and further scans on returning home that the procedure was not in fact carried out

That is something I´m struggling to understand. Are you really saying they told you a procedure was carried out when in fact it wasn´t? Or was it carried out unsuccessfully? Did they charge your health insurance for it?

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Jabba. Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. You are confused - you can imagine my compete shock. 

 

My husband and I were assured by the surgeon (following repeated attempts to get answers), that ‘yes you were in ICU’ as though it was an everyday nonevent and ‘everything was removed except one tiny X’ (which was so inconspicuous to be irrelevant), on each and every occasion we pushed for answers (mainly him, as I was pretty much incapacitated- both speech and movement - my husband had to fight and pressure them constantly to treat my post surgery state and complications - I honestly dread to think what would have happened if I had no one to fight my corner) . This was also echoed by two other doctors on the team, who were not present during the surgery - and due to ‘not being present during the surgery’, were not able to tell us what went wrong as they ‘weren’t there’, but yes could confirm that ‘everything was removed’. 

I was also given an ultrasound by the surgeon the day before I was transferred, he reiterated that everything was gone and was looking ok.

 

The 2nd hospital conducted another battery of tests - in addition to tests for the main reason for my transfer . This included an ultrasound on the area that was ‘operated on’ (the same area that the surgeon had conducted the same scan on two days prior - and confirmed that all was gone / ok).

A few minutes into the ultrasound surprise and confusion from both doctors. ‘when was your operation’ very very very long pause ‘whisper ... whisper’ ‘ we can see xyz’ - I could also very clearly see xyz on the screen. I just cried.

There was some attempt to give the 1st hospital the benefit of the doubt. But three weeks later it’s was again confirmed by the specialist who had initially referred me that yes X,Y and Z were still very much present. 

 

The one saving grace after the operation was meant to be that the procedure had at least been completed -  the complications, stress etc were not all for nothing . Only to find out that I was actually all for nothing - this is something that I struggle to understand every single day. I can’t get my head around this - why on earth would you lie about this and indeed, why wouldn’t you just say abandonment meant it was unsuccessful.

From what I understand they may have removed A which was never discussed and definitely not urgent (there is no way to verify this). A would have been done within the first 30 mins of surgery and did not involve cutting me open elsewhere. I was - I was also in surgery for over two hours, heaven only knows what was happening over this period. The surgical error directly affected my lungs and vital organs  - and I have been told that there is no way to know whether there will be any long term consequences, as an aside I do need return to a neurologist every three months for monitoring (something I don’t really talk about, but does worry me a lot). 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, optimista said:

There can be a very fine line between gross negligence and doing your inadequate human best in very difficult circumstances. Doctors are not magicians with all the answers, though this case obviously went very badly wrong. I wish the OP all the strength she can muster for what lies ahead. Good luck.

 

Thank you

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So, either you freakily had 2 sets of xyz and they only removed one set of them, thereby leaving one set of xyz behind - or did they remove something else in the mistaken belief that they were removing xyz ? The mind boggles. I think I would want a full scan and analysis of what is left and what is missing, if anything.

 

Jeba has a point about their bill. I wonder if the insurance company could pressure them for release of more information? Without a lawyer I can't see this going anywhere.

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2 hours ago, optimista said:

either you freakily had 2 sets of xyz and they only removed one set of them, thereby leaving one set of xyz behind - or did they remove something else in the mistaken belief that they were removing xyz

...or they removed it incompletely and it grew back (or e. g. in the case of a cyst filled again). We can´t even guess know without knowing what the OP is talking about.

 

2 hours ago, optimista said:

I wonder if the insurance company could pressure them for release of more information?

There will certainly be an operation protocol. If there wasn´t the surgeon would be in trouble and the burden of proof will be on him.

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Optimista, all realistic options have been run through the mind. All impossible options too. No double sets, just boils down to not wanting to deal with the honesty of the situation while I was in their care :-( .

Basically think of it like a massive hole in the roof - 10 tiles need removing in order to get this area secure and rebuilt. During the time it should have taken to remove those tiles a small pebble sized chip was removed from an area that had never been addressed / identified during any prior consultation. But this ‘chip’ can not be confirmed, we must take the word of the builders - the tiles are still very much on the roof.

Pah!

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