Longtime Consumerist reader and commenter AppTechie went through a real horror show after his 3 year old son fractured his arm.
As if the injury weren’t bad enough, he soon found himself under the fell gaze of Child Protective Services after the workers of the Hospital Corporation of America mistook his Asian wife’s stoicism for not “being comforting enough.”
Because of the inquiry by CPS, the setting of AppTechie’s son’s arm was delayed by two excruciating days.
AppTechie has inquired with malpractice lawyers but they have told him that, “because of riders on the new laws regarding a cap on what a person can win i a medical malpractice case, doctors, and especially ER doctors, are practically bulletproof for engaging in dangerous practices with patients and that we have no way to win a case like this one without extraordinary expenditure for experts and the like.”
Do you agree? Does AppTechie have a case? Or should he just try and get on with his life? Read his story inside.
- “I am hoping you would do me a favor and tell my family’s story…
On Friday October 6th, my wife got a call from our babysitter. She explained that our son was complaining about his arm hurting. My wife asked her if she should take him to the doctor and the sitter said she didn’t know. She then decided, since it was our son’s nap time, that he should go ahead with his nap and have the sitter call back if it was still hurting afterwards. Two hours later, the sitter calls. My wife then goes and picks up our son and takes him to the doctor. The doctor explains that she, a stand-in for his normal pediatrician, thinks it might be nursemaids arm. She attempts to set our son’s arm, very gently mind you, and then explains that she no longer thinks it is nursemaids arm. She tells my wife to go across the street to the hospital, Medical Center of Plano (owned by the evil HCA, I have come to find out). She also has the nurses in his doctor’s office call ahead to the hospital to advise them that an x-ray is being ordered by the primary care physician.
This is where the real nightmare begins:
My wife takes my son to the hospital ER. He is admitted and they are taken to a room. They ask my wife what happened and she gave her best answer, we still didn’t know exactly how it happened at that point. The doctor seeing my son thinks it is nursemaid’s arm too and enlists a nurse to set his arm again! Mind you, they went against his PCP’s order for an x-ray. The doctor and nurse, according to my wife, aggressively attempt to set his arm causing him pain. The doctor then enlists the aid of another doctor, who we think was the attending, to do the same with the same result. Now keep in mind, my son is ONLY 3 YEARS OLD!!! The attending then orders the original doctor to get an x-ray on my son’s arm, finally following the orders from his PCP. Sure enough, my son’s arm is fractured. It was around this time that I became aware of the situation with a call from my wife and I quickly headed over to the hospital. When I arrived, my son was surrounded by medical personnel and my wife. I went ahead and picked him up and started asking questions. They showed me the x-ray and where his arm was fractured, then they splinted his arm. Thinking everything was okay at this point, we went home. My wife and I decided that it would be good to see his family in Austin so she went ahead took him.
Upping the ante:
Sunday morning rolls around and I am sleeping in late. A benefit of the wife and son being in Austin. The doorbell rings around 10 AM rousing me from some fairly restful sleep. Wondering what the hell is going on, I go answer the door. At the door? Child Protective Services. I ask what she is doing there and she tells me that Medical Center of Plano filed a complaint against us. I am totally aghast at this point because that makes no sense. I ask her what the complaint is and she tells me, “They said that your wife wasn’t being comforting enough and that they received conflicting stories regarding his injury.” Realizing that a negative response would hinder the positive resolution of this crap, I hold my tongue instead of screaming bloody murder. My wife is a first generation Asian American (the first in her family born in the states after they escaped from Vietnam during the war). Socially, Southeast Asians tend toward stoicism and their stating that my wife was not being comforting shows a total lack of understanding of different cultures. At this point I am completely appalled at the hospital and their total lack of caring for a patient and his parents. She interviews me about my sons care and the incident in question. I explain that my wife and son are in Austin and she says that that is fine and that she will call my wife later to schedule an interview. To this day, she has never called to speak with my wife nor to schedule an interview.
Raising the stakes even further:
Monday rolls around and we schedule the appointment with my son’s orthopaedist so that he can get a cast on his arm. A CPS supervisor calls and says that we have to take him to the REACH clinic at Children’s Medicine Center in Dallas that day. I explain to her that my son has an appointment with his orthopaedist so that a cast can be put on his arm and she tells me that the REACH clinic will take care of that and to cancel his original appointment. I say ok and we head down to the REACH clinic so we can be there at the appointed time. I have my wife fill out the paperwork while I run to get food for our whole family, as we hadn’t had a chance to eat lunch yet during the hour drive to the clinic. When I return, we are called into the room and asked to strip our son and put a hospital gown on him. We do, then wait a short time for the doctor to arrive. When the doctor arrives, she has with her a resident and a Social Worker. They proceed to interview us and check our son over. After they are done checking him, obviously for any sign of abuse, I ask them when his cast will be put on his arm. I am told that they do not do that there, which is the exact opposite of what CPS told me, and that they could try to get us into the orthopaedist at the hospital but the wait could be four hours. We explain that that is not necessary and that we will take him to his original orthopaedist, which we find out isn’t available until Wednesday morning. Due to CPS’s negligence and lack of caring, our son’s care was delayed for TWO DAYS. Is it just me, or isn’t that what CPS is supposed to be preventing?
Taking it home:
After all of this crap, I begin inquiring with medical malpractice lawyers about whether or not we have a case. When I finally receive a response, the answer is appalling. I am told that because of riders on the new laws regarding a cap on what a person can win i a medical malpractice case, doctors, and especially ER doctors, are practically bulletproof for engaging in dangerous practices with patients and that we have no way to win a case like this one without extraordinary expenditure for experts and the like.
So now I bring this to you. I have been reading your site for quite a while now and I don’t know what else I can do but try to get this out in the media so that no other parent has to go through this experience with a company as horrible as HCA again. Please help.”