The Obstacles Elderly Litigants Face In Medical Malpractice Suits

The Obstacles Elderly Litigants Face In Medical Malpractice Suits

Excerpt from Aegrescit Medendo: Addressing Barriers to Medical Malpractice Litigation Faced by the Elderly, 18 Elder L.J. 391 (2011)

By Ryan McCarthy

Ryan McCarthy is an Associate Editor 2010-2011, Member 2009-2010, The Elder Law Journal; J.D. 2011, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; B.A. 2008, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

I. Introduction

""We were with mom for three hours and when we finally got hold of the nurse in charge, she said "we didn't know that room was occupied!' (Wound dehiscence and septic shock in a 90 year old. She lived with a married daughter for 15 years. She was unable to help around the house because of profound visual problems. "All she did was keep me company every day and she told me every night that she loved me.')" 1

""Mom was 80, but every day she cleaned the house and there was always a hot meal on the table. Every day we spoke by phone. And whenever I needed her on a weekend, I could drop off the kids. I lost my mother, my babysitter, my best friend.' (Death by malpractice)" 2

""Jurors, you have just heard defense counsel in his closing remarks argue to you with reference to Elmer's prior medical history that notwithstanding the negligence of his client, Elmer already had one foot in the grave. After the defense lawyer made those arguments, I turned around and looked at Elmer and he winked at me - with his good eye.' (Blindness in one eye of an 80 year old from malpractice)" 3

The preceding quotes were testimony from medical malpractice cases. Everyday courts are presented with sad stories of elderly patients who are injured by their health care providers. The saddest cases, however, are the ones that do not get heard at all. . . .

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