CYSTOSCOPY IN DOCTOR’S OFFICE LEADS TO FALL IN BATHROOM
A cystoscopy is a medical procedure. Doctors use it to diagnose problems in the urinary system. The doctor inserts a tube into the urethra. (The urethra is the duct through which urine passes from the bladder. In a man, the urethra ends at the head of the penis, where urine is excreted). The cystoscopy tube has a lens at the end. This allows the doctor to see the inside of a patient’s bladder and urinary system. A cystoscopy is often performed under sedation.
There are possible side effects to a cystoscopy. These include bleeding and infection. During the procedure, the doctor injects a liquid into the bladder. After the cystoscopy, the patient will need to urinate.
Peter went to his urologist’s office for a routine cystoscopy. The procedure went fine. However, After the procedure, the doctor allowed Peter to urinate in the bathroom by himself. Unfortunately, Peter fainted in the bathroom. He fell to the ground, injuring his head and neck.
Victim Files Lawsuit
Thus, Peter sued his doctor. Not just for medical malpractice, but for maintaining an unsafe premises. Peter claimed that there should have been a “pull-string” or call button in the bathroom.
The trial judge tossed Peter’s case out of court. Accordingly, Peter appealed. The appeals court agreed with the trial judge.
The Medical Malpractice Claim
As to any medical malpractice claim, the appeals court noted that Peter did not obtain an affidavit of merit. An affidavit of merit is a statement, under oath, from another physician. The affidavit states that the treating physician violated the standard of care of his specialty.
Peter’s lawyer thus argued that his doctor’s medical negligence was so obvious that there was no requirement of an affidavit of merit. Indeed, the law states that, in obvious cases, there is no need for an affidavit of merit. For example, if a surgeon performing an amputation cuts off the wrong leg, that is obvious malpractice. In such a case, there’s no requirement for an affidavit of merit.
Nonetheless, the appeals court ruled that Peter’s case was not so obvious. The doctor observed that Peter was feeling well after the procedure. He watched Peter walk to the bathroom without any difficulty. The court ruled that it was a judgment call as to how to monitor a patient once in the bathroom. For example, whether to station a nurse outside the bathroom while the patient is urinating. If you are going to sue a physician over a judgment call, you need an affidavit of merit.
The Unsafe Premises Claim
The appeals court also rejected Peter’s claim that the premises were unsafe. Peter didn’t trip on any hazard. The court stated that Peter was really claiming medical malpractice, even if he phrased part of his claim as a routine fall-down accident. The court further noted that there was no evidence that a “pull-string” or call button in the bathroom would have prevented Peter from fainting.
Be Prudent in Your Doctor’s Office
If you ever have to have a cystoscopy, I would recommend that you insist that a nurse accompanies you into the bathroom after the procedure. Modesty isn’t worth an injury. Moreover, be careful when you select an attorney. Select an experienced lawyer, who will know, for example, when to file an affidavit of merit.