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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 111567
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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My father in law who lived with us was 96 when he had a fall

Customer Question

my father in law who lived with us was 96 when he had a fall and a bad wound on his leg. we took him the the va er. because he is a veteran. the admitted him and pumped him full of antibiotics. he ended up catching C DIFF BACTERIA AND THIS CAUSED HIM TO GO IN TO THE ER 3 MORE TIMES AND BE ADMITTED 2 MORE TIMES. THE DOCTOR WHO WAS IN CHARGE TOLD MY WIFE HE WOULD HAVE TO GO TO NURSING HOME AND COULD NOT KEEP COMMING TO THE ER.
\THIS HAPPEND FROM OCT 2015 TO JAN 2016. WE ADMITTED HIM TO A NURSING HOME WHERE HE DIED ON MARCH 28, 2016. MY WIFE AND I FEEL THAT THE C DIFF WAS A CAUSE OF HIS DEATH SINCE IT WAS NEVER ERADICATED. \
Is this a matter which we can sue the veterans hospital for his pre-mature death. He was healthly according the the VA otherwise. Please let me know: ***** *****,***@******.***,(###) ###-####
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
In order to have a medical malpractice claim for his wrongful death, you have to prove through a medical expert that the facility caused him to get the infection through their negligence or that their improper treatment led to his death. The only way to do this is through expert testimony pursuant to RI law. See: R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-19-41. So you need to get a medical expert in RI to review his medical records to determine if the facility or doctor acted below the reasonable standard of care to cause his early death.
Unfortunately, because he was 96, damages are going to be limited, because the courts look at life expectancy when determining the value of a wrongful death claim, so the sad fact is that the older the person is and, thus, closer to life expectancy, the lower the value of the damages. That is something for the expert to also determine as to how many more years he could have reasonably been expected to live had this not occurred (if it is determined by the expert to have been care that was below the reasonable standard of care). Because it was the VA, you would have to sue them in the US District Court in RI or in the Court of Federal Claims in DC. Either way, the federal courts are even more conservative than the RI Superior Court in Providence (which is the most liberal when it comes to judgments in the entire state).
So the first thing you need to do is get a medical expert to review his medical records to make the expert determination on negligence of the facility. If they determine there was negligence, then you would seek the medical malpractice attorney with that proof to pursue the medical malpractice wrongful death claim against the VA.

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