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Old 03-20-2015, 07:20 AM
398 posts, read 465,476 times
Reputation: 533


My husband lost his life on Thanksgiving at MDAnderson in Houston.

He suffered from cll, a chronic leukemia and was there to get a bone marrow transplant, for which he had a perfect ten match in his brother.

He did well with the chemo and we were stunned when they postponed the transplant because an underlying lymphoma reared it's ugly head and was not responding to the chemo.

After some discussion he decided he was going to fight like hell anyway, and he did.
A few weeks into the fight I was called away for two weeks, I spoke with every dr and nurse who I saw for two solid weeks before ia greed to leave, every last person assured me he was doing well and I should go.

Meanwhile, dh had an ostomy bag for urine, from bladder cancer many years ago.
He changed his bag himself every couple of days, though I was concerned enough about it being a possible source of infection so I showed every staff member how to change it, made sure every dr and nurse practitioner and assistant knew it needed to be changed every two days, etc etc.

So guess what? Dh became ill with a much more serious infection while I was gone, he was drifting in and out of consciousnous and NO ONE changed the bag while I was gone.
( I know this because the first thing I did was look at the bag and it was full of floating tissue--gross.
I also asked a nurse to go check when it had last been changed and when she returned she said there wasn't ANY mention of the bag AT ALL in his chart!)
she got very upset when I asked about that and stammered that maybe the staff didn't always note those types of things--um NO!)

He died three weeks later from kidney failure brought about by a massive UTI--and the death certificate says this too.

I called a few lawyers and was told that since MDAnderson is owned by the state of texas I basically wont ever win if I sue for wrongful death or whatever the term is.
I struggle between opposing thoughts here---it was fate and he was going to die no matter what I did or didn't do.

OR MDAnderson ****ed up mightily and caused his death---though both lawyers said with his age and recurring leukemia I have no case anyway.
I counter with if that is true why were they continuing with chemo? if he really had no chance why torture him and not just send him to hospice?

I cant believe that we went to the premier oncology hospital in the USA (number one ranking this year iirc) and such a major screwup happened.

My poor love.

Anyway, if you made it this far, thanks, and would you pursue legal action or walk away?
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Old 03-20-2015, 07:47 AM
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
75 posts, read 64,411 times
Reputation: 219
Lawsuits are terribly stressful and expensive. Ask yourself: What are you trying/hoping to achieve with the suit? What was his prognosis prior to the UTI? Are there unpaid medical bills you want them to pay? Their argument will likely be that he was dying anyway, and that the UTI might have happened regardless.

I'm sorry you had to go through this.
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Old 03-20-2015, 08:09 AM
398 posts, read 465,476 times
Reputation: 533
His prognosis was that if he survived the chemo and bone marrow transplant he would go on to have a new and healthy life.
I knew the risk of him dying from infection was very very high, but I assumed they wouldn't hasten his death by ignoring the obvious source of the most common infection of all. They were just so damn cavalier about it and I am mad, justifiably so I think.
I don't think I have anything to gain but the mad part of me wants them to pay for the screwup which killed him.
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:29 AM
Location: Leaving fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada
3,836 posts, read 6,605,387 times
Reputation: 7254
Suz1023, I am so sorry for your loss. My thought reading this is that it isn't going to make things better for you if you sue. Is there some way you can take the money it would cost to file this lawsuit to raise awareness about proper Ostomy care? Maybe help a family in similar circumstances, or one who is new to dealing with cancer?

Lawsuits are painful and so unproductive. They can change you in ugly ways. If you have already spoken with 2 attorneys who have said the same thing, you should think about what they are saying. Also how much of your time, energy and money do you want to put into a losing proposition? You'll file, it will be heard, you'll lose--then will you let it go, or will you appeal? If you win, it will likely be on a legal technicality, not on a cause of medical neglect. You will still hurt and feel empty.

Doctors continue with chemo because that's what their training says to do. It's easier for them to say fight, rather than go home and let nature have her way. Lots of cancer patients die because something else happened that interrupted that fight. Please don't let this change you. Find a better way to honor your husbands fight.
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:32 AM
Location: Pennsylvania
15,559 posts, read 9,584,514 times
Reputation: 25996
don't remember him with hate. He and you deserve better.
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Old 03-20-2015, 02:19 PM
398 posts, read 465,476 times
Reputation: 533
I feel that I let him down by not being there to make sure he was getting what he needed.
All I have left is knowing he feels better at last. But that is cold comfort when I remember how ill he was and how no one paid attention to his basic needs, which ultimately caused his death.

I wont sue, but I wont be silent when people gush about that facility either.
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Old 03-20-2015, 03:57 PM
Location: A place that's too cold
4,077 posts, read 4,046,849 times
Reputation: 10057
First of all, my condolences for your loss, which would have been painful even without the extenuating circumstances.
In regard to your question, if what you have stated is accurate, the nursing staff was very careless, if not downright negligent. It is unfathomable to me that the care of your husband's urostomy bag was never charted. Now, surely the bag was emptied on a regular basis, as it would get completely full in a day or two. That should have been charted. As far as the "tissue" floating in the bag, that was probably mucous, which should have prompted the doctor to order a urine culture to check for infection. When the bag was emptied, the appearance of the urine should have been charted.
If multiple nurses omitted this basic but vital part of patient care and charting (which frankly is hard for me to fully believe), the hospital definitely needs to be held accountable. Have you talked with the hospital CEO, or at least the nursing manager?
Something is just not adding up. This is so bizarre. Again, IF your details are accurate, I would say you have a duty to dig deeper and hold the hospital accountable.
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Old 03-20-2015, 04:48 PM
9,258 posts, read 7,284,180 times
Reputation: 22710
Originally Posted by suz1023 View Post
I don't think I have anything to gain but the mad part of me wants them to pay for the screwup which killed him.
Can you prove the bold? Can you prove a screw up?
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Old 03-20-2015, 05:52 PM
398 posts, read 465,476 times
Reputation: 533
He had two bags while in bed. One small one which taped to his skin around the ostomy which drained via a tube into a larger bag which was hooked to the iv rack.
The large bag was emptied several times a day and volume was duly noted each and every time I witnessed that.

The little bag only held a cup or so and was usually hidden under the gown or sheets, which is why every time someone emptied the big bag I lifted the sheets and showed them the little bag and reminded them to make sure it got changed.
So the fresh urine drained through into the bigger bag, but the clotty material was present in the little bag.

I haven't spoken with the hospital yet, though I suppose a call to the nursing manager might be in order.
The PA who checked the chart for me was slightly aghast and took off, she was a sub that day and I never saw her again, but I remember her name.
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Old 03-21-2015, 12:15 AM
Location: Florida Gulf Coast
4,083 posts, read 5,496,975 times
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Suz, I am just so sorry for your loss. This must be weighing incredibly on you....I have a similar type of guilt over the way my mother died.

A couple questions, though: You said you spoke to multiple people, including his doctors, about the need to change the bag. Did you speak to any of them afterward to find out what happened and why your instructions were ignored? Four months have now gone by and people's memories fade, especially when dealing with hundreds of patients since then. It may be difficult to go back now and re-trace what happened after you left, but if you really want answers, you have to ask those questions. It seems incredible that you spoke to so many people about it yet there's no mention in his chart. Also, you said he was changing the bag himself....was that while he was in the hospital? I didn't think they would allow a patient to do that on his own while they are responsible for his care and any potential infections....?

I hope you can find some answers....I know it won't bring him back and I don't think you will find a lawyer willing to sue, but I know I would definitely be hounding them for answers!
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