Michoacana seeks justice in the US: “I almost died from medical negligence”
MEXICO.- Vianey Cervantes was walking with her family on the beach in Charleston, South Carolina, when she was in such severe pain that she could no longer walk. Her husband took her almost dying to the hospital. Hours later they removed some forgotten gauzes from her body… three years earlier!
“It was when I gave birth to my third child,” she says in an interview with this newspaper.
This 40-year-old Michoacan saved her life by a miracle. According to the medical part, If I had waited one more day I wouldn’t live to tell about it.. She was hospitalized for several days and unable to work for nearly two months.
The case began three years ago in Marieta, Georgia, where she lives. Because of her history of two C-sections, doctors at Keneston Hospital recommended that she not have her third child by natural birth, and she agreed.
Everything was normal. She gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby and went home to enjoy her extended family.: five members in total with their three children and husband. As the days passed, she began to feel discomfort and throbbing that she considered normal, as part of the surgery.
But it was never completely removed. It was controlled with analgesics and when he had regular check-ups with the gynecologist nothing was detected. Everything exploded that afternoon when for Thanksgiving Day he traveled with the family to visit friends.
Vianey Cervantes thus joined the 400,000 hospitalized patients who experience some type of damage due to medical malpractice, according to figures from the American Medical Association (AMA). Medical errors include surgical, diagnostic, drug, device and equipment and system failures, infections, falls and healthcare technology.
“You think that things like this don’t happen in the United States and the last thing I thought was that something like this would happen,” says this 23-year-old migrant from Morelia in the United States. “I just saw that my stomach was always swollen.”
Vianey Cervantes was unable to stand when she arrived at the hospital in Charleston and was vomiting blood. They asked her if she was an alcoholic or a drug addict or what she had done to contaminate her blood in this way. “I thought I had leukemia.”
The diagnosis was overwhelming. The appendix was totally contaminated, it had to be removed. In addition, the X-rays showed a kind of tumor that had no explanation and they also had to open that area: it was the gauze that had stuck to the body, rotten and contaminated for three years.
The operation was supposed to last 45 minutes, but it took two and a half hours. In the end she survived, but was left with a bitter taste.
He was lucky, the doctors insisted. According to AMA calculations, medical malpractices in the United States cause approximately 100,000 deaths each year. at an annual cost of $20 billion.
In 2021, cases such as Javaid Perwaiz, a Virginia obstetrician and gynecologist who was sentenced to 59 years in prison this year after nearly a decade of medical malpractice, stood out. According to court documents, a criminal complaint was filed against Perwaiz for 26 counts of health care fraud, 32 counts of false statements, and three counts of aggravated identity theft.
Patients reported that Perwaiz persuaded several women to undergo invasive and irreversible surgeries, including hysterectomies, which were unnecessary. In at least one case, he told a patient that if he didn’t have the surgery, he would develop cancer.
In another case documented in New York, it ended with the arrest of George Blatti, a doctor accused of second-degree murder under the theory of “depraved” indifference. after he allegedly prescribed opioid painkillers to patients without any medical history review or examination. Five of his patients died from overdoses between 2016 and 2018.
According to the AMA, more than 34% of physicians face a malpractice lawsuit at some point in their career, and nearly 50% are sued when they are over the age of 55.
The problem with medical malpractice cases against Mexican immigrants is the fear of possible immigration retaliation. The company Correct Care Solutions (CCS), which provides medical services to detention centers for the undocumented, was sued for malpractice or negligence by only 1,395 people in 15 years, for example.
Among those cases, Project on Government Oversight, an independent, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, DC, documented cases of deaths in Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, and New York, among other states.
Vianey Cervantes is not afraid to make a complaint. On the contrary, she and her husband, Amado Girón, search the regional community for other matters to add to the cause against this type of negligence of migrants with their profile.
Some lawyers give them hope; others believe that it is difficult to go against the American health system. “The problem is that I stayed alive, otherwise it would be easier to sue them, for the family to ask for compensation,” details the mother of the family, who returned to work until the beginning of January.
It has not yet considered it necessary to go to the consulate, although by regulation all embassies must give attention to victims of human rights violations and help channel complaints to the corresponding authorities, regardless of their immigration status.
The consulate provides special attention to those who have been victims of actions by authorities that threaten their life and physical integrity (police, border patrol, immigration authorities, among others).
“I don’t have much confidence because the staff doesn’t have the attitude or the patience to answer questions regularly,” he details. “Besides, I’m barely recovering and my husband works late and I can’t with my two babies.”
But it will go on.
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