Medical Malpractice: What Happens After Misdiagnosis, Negligence in the Healthcare Profession? Part 2
In Part 1 of our What Happens After Misdiagnosis series, we began to explain to the reader exactly why negligence leading to a medical misdiagnosis can cause as much injury to the patient as something physical, such as a surgical error. We also looked at the specific criteria that needs to be met in order to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Now, in Part 2, we will set out to provide our readers with an experienced personal injury attorney perspective on the scope of negligence, and medical malpractice as a whole. We’ll also take a better look at the specific injuries that often occur due to medical malpractice, and provide insight to how an experienced personal injury attorney can obtain damages for clients with both physical and “invisible” injuries.
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Proving negligence: when the doctor becomes the medical problem
Usually, a patient pays their physician a visit when they’re already sick or injured. This leaves the door wide open for questions when it comes to whether or not the healthcare provider was the cause of the patient’s pain and suffering. Did the patient’s condition get worse in due course, or did the physician act in a way that caused the patient’s health to deteriorate where it otherwise would’ve remained stable?
As an example, if a patient presents in the ER with an infection but are being treated for Diabetes, if the patient must have their leg amputated, it’s quite difficult to prove that the doctor acted in a way that caused the patient to lose their leg. It could be said that because infection and thusly amputation frequently occurs in improperly treated Diabetic patients, that this was the due course for the patient’s condition.
However, if the patient presented in the ER with an infection that could’ve been treated with a course of strong antibiotics, but the physician failed to prescribe them in time, or at all, and the patient loses the affected limb, that doctor may be at-fault. The patient and their attorney must, through lengthy but fairly straightforward course of action, show that “more than likely” the physician that treated the patient acted in a way that directly resulted in the injurious outcome for the patient,.
“More than likely” is key. Proving that the healthcare provider acted unreasonably in a way that was “more than likely” to have seriously bodily injured the patient is necessary in medical malpractice cases in which the patient suffered a visible injury.
As we established in Part 1, medical misdiagnosis has different criteria that need be met when the injury caused to the patient is considered “invisible”. Before moving on, let’s recap what those steps are:
1. A doctor-patient relationship must have existed
2. A negligent doctor
3. The physician’s carelessness harmed the patient in a way that “more than likely” caused them not to receive proper care in a timely manner that could’ve been life sustaining
So your attorney referred to it as medical malpractice, but which kind?
There are three major, straightforward types of medical malpractice that most often affect patients when it comes to their healthcare:
1. Failure to diagnose: this is self explanatory, but there are patients who still don’t know that NOT being diagnosed can be just as injurious as a wrong diagnosis. Without a diagnosis, the patient can’t receive the proper treatment needed to restore their health and return their quality of life. This can lead to worsening of symptoms, progression of illness, and in extreme cases the patient can even lose their life from lack of treatment. It must be proven in a court of law that a more competent physician could’ve discovered, diagnosed, and treated the illness in a way that could have saved the patient’s health (or their life).
2. Failure to provide treatment: failure to provide treatment could mean several things: if a competent physician could be proven to have provided the same treatment the negligent doctor provided, but in a way that was considered more reasonable (dosing, length of treatment, no delays in treatment), then the physician may be liable. Failure to provide treatment can also be a factor if a more reasonable physician would’ve provided a treatment that could’ve restored the health of the patient, or at least prevented them from deteriorating and the negligent doctor did not pursue such an option. Both of these factors could be grounds for medical malpractice.
3. Failure to disclose risks: a physician is required by law (and because they took an oath to “do no harm”, to warn the patient of any known risk factors, big or small, that come with the treatment they are providing them. These risk factors can range from simple and treatable side effects such as headache or dizziness, to more severe side effects such as infections, swelling, blood clots, and death. We hear these side effects disclosed in drug and medical procedure commercials regularly, but it’s the physician’s duty to explain to the patient everything that could potentially occur over the course of their treatment. Failure to do so (if the doctor knew they were withholding the information) could result in a medical malpractice claim being filed against the doctor.
Up next: we wrap up the series with a look at medical malpractice related damages in “Medical Malpractice: What Happens After Misdiagnosis, Negligence in the Healthcare Profession? Part 3”
In the third and final installment of our What Happens After Misdiagnosis? series, we’ll provide more personal injury attorney perspective on the biggest secret the insurance companies don’t want injured victims to know: their right to obtaining damages when it comes to medical malpractice, and how to navigate the ins and outs of ensuring the victim is justly compensated for the pain and suffering.