Misdiagnosis resulting in severe pain and delay in treatment. Can I claim?

I went to a Doctor with a very sore ankle, two weeks after turning it whilst
playing lacrosse. I knew something wasn’t right. The doctor spent about 5
minutes with me and decided I had simply sprained it and it would get better.
I wasn’t convinced so went for a second opinion. They agreed there was
something more serious going on, ordered an MRI and it turns out I had
fractured my talus, ruptured my Anterior Talo-Fibular ligament and sprained
other ligaments. Walking around on it caused fluid to build up in my talus,
resulting in significant pain and a delay in treatment. It also possibly made
the fracture worse I have not asked my new doctor yet if this is the case

Asked on March 30, 2016 under Malpractice Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF you can prove, by medical evidence or testimony, that the misdiagnosis and resulting delay in treatment caused your injury to get worse, AND it was negligent, or unreasonably careless, for the 1st doctor to conclude it was only sprained, then you may have a malpractice case. That is, you need both fault and causality.
In terms of fault: it's not enough that the doctor was wrong; the law accepts that the practice of medicine is not perfect or exact. It must be more that, based on the symptoms as presented, an examination of the ankle, the description of what happened, etc., it was not reasonable to think it was a sprain--or at least, not reasonable to not order an MRI. 
Even if you have a case, if, as we hope, there is no lasting consequences from any malpractice and your additional medical bills are modest or reasonable, it may not be worthwhile to bring a case. Malpractice cases can be very expensive, because in addition to an attorney (you are allowed to proceed without one, but are strongly advised not to), you *must* hire a medical expert, and they can cost thousands. Unless you had very large out-of-pocket medical bills or long-lasting significant impairment from the malpractice, you could spend more on the case then you'd get back.


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