What is a hospitalist? Hospitalists are physicians skilled in all types of medical treatment administered within the hospital setting. Hospitals serve many different patients with a wide spectrum of conditions. Standard of care is especially relevant in any type of hospital service, particularly when significant decisions must be made immediately. When allegations of medical negligence occur, plaintiffs may sue the hospitalist for adverse reactions to medications, a poor medical outcome, or other issues related to hospital care.
Plaintiff has charged a VA Medical Center and staff with malpractice in the death of her husband. Her husband died in September 2012 after a stay at the VA facility. He was admitted to the hospital to treat diverticulitis and an infection caused by a small perforation in his bowel. On two occasions he was given four times the amount of the opiate Dilaudid prescribed. His vital signs were not monitored and when he was found unresponsive, he was moved to the ICU where he died. The doctor who then oversaw the ICU, testified for the defense saying that the husband succumbed to a heart attack. Plaintiff argued that the heart attack was caused by her husband being given four times the prescribed amount of a powerful opiate two times within four hours. The complaint describes the ICU attending doctor admitting to plaintiff that there were two mistakes in the administration of his medications. The husband was 40 years old and had just retired from the army after twenty years of service. The lawsuit was settled out of court.
Hospitalists are responsible for prompt and thorough attention to all hospital patient care needs. When charges of medical negligence arise, allegations of errors in diagnosis, medication, treatment and/or performance of medical procedures may be involved. In such litigation, the hospitalist expert witness is highly qualified and presents an unbiased opinion to the court. As a member of the litigation team, the trained and vetted hospitalist expert witness adds a powerful voice to the client’s legal argument.