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I've been told it is very difficult to sue a "non profit" hospital. My relative was misdiagnosed in an ER, can we sue?

Burlington, MA |

My husband went to the ER w/ a severe headache, dizzy, "feeling drunk", seeing flashing lites. No tests were run and he was dx w/ heat stroke and sent home. That nite he had a massive stroke and ended up paralyzed and unable to speak. He spent 3 weeks in the hospital than was moved to a rehab where he died 4 weeks later from pneumonia. Do we have grounds to sue?

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Attorney answers 3


In Massachusetts there is a $20,000 cap protecting charitable organizations and many health care providers have set themselves up under that umbrella. However, that is not the end of the analysis in that in malpractice cases there are often others that are potential defendants.

All of this is jumping ahead in your potential case in that a determiniation needs to be made as to whether the care that was given fell below the average standard of care. The Massachusetts medical malpractice statute comes right out and says in black and white that an unfortunate result is not enough, that below average care must be demonstrated to be the cause of harm.

Again, all of this is jumping way ahead in your potential case, in an efffort to answer the questions that you posed. There are many very good medical malpractice attorneys in the Greater Boston area and I highly reccomend that you seek a free initial consultation.

I wish you and your husband the best,

This answer is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided in an office consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, with experience in the area of law in which your concern lies.


I am very sorry to learn of your loss. You should be aware that most hospitals in MA are designated as "charitable" or "non-profits", however if there is liability, individual doctors and/or nurses may be held accountable. I would be pleased to answer any additional questions you may have.


There is indeed a charitable immunity cap of $20,000 in MA in claims agains a non-profit hospital. However, the cap does not apply to the physicians and nurses of the hospital. Based upon your description of your husband's care, you should certainly speak to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. The first order of business would be to obtain your husband's complete medical records. If you have not been appointed the administrator or executor of his estate, that will be required as only the duly appointed representative of his estate may obtain his records.

Rather than you trying to figure out how to navigate through these challenges, call a lawyer. Most experienced lawyers will review the case without any fee. Before you hire a lawyer, look at his or her reviews on Avvo to get a sense of how clients have perceived the lawyer.

I have handled several cases like yours and would be happy to speak with you. Check out my reviews on Avvo. My condolences for your loss. Good luck.

Marc Breakstone

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