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Can I sue a hospital if the ER Receptionist delayed his treatment?

Virginia Beach, VA |

We took my husband in w/ symptoms of a heart attack. I asked her to get him immediate attention and that I would stay w/ her to give all and any ins info she needed. She refused to let him get treatment until ALL the info was in the computer. My husband was clearly in major distress! It took about 10 minutes before a nurse noticed him about to pass out and came and took him into the treatment room. He was diagnosed w/ having a Massive Heart Attack and transferred to another hospital. What can we do?

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Attorney answers 3


A ten minute delay in treatment is unlikely to affect the outcome of a heart attack.There is a certain amount of delay built into hospital procedures, unless the patient is obviously about to die. If you said an hour I would encourage you to consult a malpractice attorney. Based on the information you have provided, I doubt that your husband has a viable claim against the hospital. If he had died it might be different, but fortunately he didn't.

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Agreed. 10 minutes would not have made a difference since he survived.

DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.


It is unlikely that this short delay was malpractice, however, it could be.....for example, there are countless cases, as we all know, in which delays by the triage as well as ambulances have been found to be malpractice. You would need to have a local med mal lawyer order your records and send to an expert to review to ascertain whether there was a breach of the standard of care.

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Curious ~ Should the hospital not have a policy that states that 'if the patient is in visible distress, they can be seen immediately'? The receptionist was adament about NOT letting us through til they made sure they had his info. It seemed as though they were putting the "payment" in front of the "patient". Also, the distance between both hospitals was is 45 mins. Transfer from hospital to hospital was a 25-30 min drive in the ambulance because life-flight was not available. Although, there was an RN and a Paramedic in the ambulance w/us during the transfer, I was freaking out that he would have another episode on the way there.

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