On October 24, 2012, a Pennsylvania man filed a wrongful death lawsuit against an oxygen supply company for its alleged failure to timely deliver sufficient oxygen to the home of his 57-year-old mother who had advance stage lung cancer. The woman’s son claims in his wrongful death lawsuit that on Friday, April 20, 2012, the oxygen supply company delivered three oxygen tanks to his mother’s home, which were enough for only two days, in response to his brother’s call to the company on Friday to advise it that his mother’s oxygen supply was running low. When her oxygen supply was running low again on Sunday, April 22, 2012, the brother called the oxygen supply company to advise it that a delivery of oxygen tanks was needed immediately.
According to the wrongful death lawsuit, a company dispatcher advised him that someone from the company would call him back. When the company failed to call him back within two hours, the woman’s son called the company again to emphasize the urgency of the situation, but no one called him back. The son called the company a third time an hour later. The son finally received a return call from the company after 4:00 p.m. on Sunday but was told that oxygen tanks were not delivered by the company on Sundays and that his mother would have to use her emergency supply of oxygen when her oxygen ran out at about 2:00 a.m. on Monday, that the emergency oxygen should last between two and three days, and that oxygen tanks would be delivered the next day (Monday).
The emergency supply of oxygen was started at 2:00 a.m. on Monday morning. The woman’s condition did not seem to suffer at first but at 10:40 a.m. on Monday morning, the woman was found to be not breathing and died allegedly from oxygen deprivation.
Adding indignity to injury, the company called at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, requesting to pick up their equipment from the woman’s home. The company never expressed any concern or condolences to the family regarding the woman’s death.
Medical supply companies, including home oxygen suppliers, owe a duty to their clients/customers to provide life-sustaining supplies in a timely, efficient, and trustworthy manner. Obviously, someone who needs a continuous oxygen supply at home in order to survive is placing his/her life in the hands of a commercial business that has agreed to assume the weighty responsibility to appropriately respond to the patient’s medical needs. In the Pennsylvania wrongful death case, we do not know the oxygen supplier’s defense to the lawsuit’s allegations because the company has refused to comment on the pending litigation. Nonetheless, there is no excuse to put the profits of a business above the life of a person.
If a medical supply company’s negligence may have caused you or a loved one’s injuries or death, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney who may agree to investigate your possible negligence claim for you and file a negligence case on your behalf, if appropriate.
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