Can I Sue a doctor if he failed to treat me?

Went to Emergency room with huge bug in
ear…doc said nothing in ear…had to
sit there six hours and he did
nothing.. probably because I have no
insurance. I had an EMT flush my ear
after I left hospital and got bug out.
Then decided to check it out by another
doctor. He said I have busted eardrum
and ear canal is scratched up. If first
doc would have believe me instead of
treating me like garbage that was
contagious the bug could not have done
the damage it did. Now I’m pouring all
my money in meds and ENT appointments.
Can I do anything to him for not taking
and x-ray or MRI or anything he should
have done? All he would say to me was
there is some scratches no bug nothing
he can do and eardrum looks healthy…
obviously it wasn’t… obviously he
doesn’t know the difference between a
bug and an ear drum

Asked on June 8, 2017 under Malpractice Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Potentially you could sue, based on what you write: not seeing an insect in your ear canal or not running any scans or tests, or doing basic procedures like flushing the canal, appears to have been negligent, or unreasonably careless, given that an EMT was able to  locate and remove the insect. (If an EMT could, a doctor should have, too.) Whether it is worth suing is not clear, however; malpractice lawsuits are very expensive because you *must* have a medical expert (e.g. a doctor) write a report and testify, and such experts can costs hundreds into the thousands of dollars to do this; as a practical matter, given the complexity of the case, you will also need an attorney (legally, you may be your own lawyer, but this is not advised). Given that unless you suffer significant permanent hearing impairment traceable to the failure to remove the insect more quickly, the main thing that you'd get back are your out-of-pocket (not paid by insurance, etc.) medical costs; you might therefore spend as much on the suit as you hope to recover. That said, if you do suffer pemanant significant impairment, the story is different; in that event, a lawsuit may well be worth it, to recover for the loss of hearing, etc.


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