You may have a malpractice claim against the hospital or the ER physician. However, such cases can be very difficult to prove, unless there is a substantial injury to the patient/plaintiff.
ER physicians get considerable latitude in their efforts, because they're duty is to stabilize the patient, not necessarily cure, or determine a specific course of care.
The issue for a physician considering an 85 year old patient's need for something like open heart surgery is that the chance of surviving the operation is probably low, so that it may be less risky to manage the patient on medication, rather than try to repair her heart. This may be something that the patient should consider before trying to force the issue, because at her age, the surgery may really be the last decision of her life.
Typically, jumping to hiring an attorney while the emotional circumstances remain "hot," is not the best plan. Most lawyers will back away from such a case out of a fear of being sanctioned by the State Bar for advocating legal action with a client who is not in a state of mind to make such important and costly decisions.
That said, the decision to seek legal representation
is yours (actually, it's your mother-in-law's, unless you have a durable power of attorney
appointing you as your m-i-l's representative).
For a medical malpractice attorney referral, see this link
Hope this helps.
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