Losing a family member to an illness is hard enough; imagine the agony of searching for your mother for 17 days only to find her dead within the walls of the hospital she relied on for care. This is exactly the case in the medical malpractice lawsuit that is expected to be filed against San Francisco General Hospital, and thus the city, by the children of a woman who went missing from her hospital room in October 2013. The 57-year-old patient was found dead after a 17-day search; she was apparently unable to find her way back into the hospital after entering a seldom used stairwell.
In order to file the lawsuit, the family must first file their claim against the hospital with the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, citing their allegations. This important first step has been taken, and the family intends to pursue damages above the $250,000 medical malpractice limit by alleging hospital negligence in violation of the Elder Abuse and Adult Dependency statute. This was not a situation in which a single caretaker acted against the patient’s best interests, as is often thought of when medical malpractice comes to mind. The family is alleging that the hospital itself did not provide a suitable environment for their mother and that once the patient went missing the hospital and authorities failed to execute a thorough search. This combination of negligence proved fatal for the San Francisco woman and devastating for her family.
Hospitals are a place of refuge for the sick, a place that we trust to care for our loved ones. Medical malpractice lawsuits are not only meant to protect patients from the mistakes of doctors and nurses, but also against hospital negligence in cases such as these. It is important to remember that hospitals sometimes make mistakes, and if you feel that you have been involved in a situation where a health care facility was negligent, you may have legal options and the right to exercise those options.
Source: KTVU.com, “Family of woman found dead in San Francisco hospital filing lawsuit,” David Stevenson, March 5, 2014