Can I sue an eye doctor for a misdiagnosis that has put me into financial debt due to medical bills for their recommendation to see a specialist?

I was diagnosed with glaucoma and was told to see another doctor that my insurance does not cover. The doctor said that nothing was different about my eyes and that they did not see any signs of glaucoma. I received a bill for over 600 dollars that I can not pay. What can I do?

Asked on March 28, 2017 under Malpractice Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is NOT worth suing. First, it's far from a given that the first doctor would be liable, or responsible, for this amount: he or she would only potentially be liable if you can show that not only was his diagnosis wrong, but it was negligent, or unreasonably careless--that is, no reasonable doctor would have thought you might have glaucoma or advised you to see a specialist or otherwise get another opinion. The law accepts that the practice of medicine is not perfect; doctors are only liable when they are unreasonable careless, not when they do what they should but happen to be wrong.
Second, even if the doctor had been negligent, all you could get back would be the $600 (what the neligence cost you); but it would cost you more than that to sue, since you'd have to hire a doctor to write a report and testify at trial about how the first doctor was wrong. (Your testimony about what a doctor told you would be heresay and would not be accepted by the court; you need a doctor to testify as to his/her opinion.)  But hiring medical experts for trial almost always costs far more than $600, and this is a cost you could not get back in the lawsuit.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.