Do I have a case of malpractice if her doctor missed the correct diagnosis?

Recently, my wife passed away. She was diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon with 3 buldging discs which put pressure on nerves causing inflamation of the sacro-iliac joint, resulting in pain and swelling. After months of treatment and medications, she went to a pain specialist. This doctor immediately sent her for additional tests, which showed the swelling to be a cancerous tumor that was spreading rapidly. She died 6 weeks later.

Asked on February 22, 2013 under Malpractice Law, Florida

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

It is unlikely that you could pursue a malpractice case in Florida under these facts.  A lawyer would first have to prove that your wife would have survived if the correct diagnosis had been made.  While I do not know the exact type of cancer, it is unlikely that months would have made the difference between life and death with a rapidly growing tumor.  The lawyer would also have to prove that a reasonably competent surgeon would have made the correct diagnosis.  This is debatable.  Finally, damages are capped in Florida at $1 million for wrongful death.  You would have to pay attorney's fees (at least 40%), litigation costs (at least $150,000 - $200,000 in my estimation), and reimburse all your wife's insurance payments.  This would leave you with a very small recovery.  For these reasons, I doubt that any malpractice lawyer would be willing to prosecute a case.

Having said that, malpractice lawyers do not charge for consultations.  I suggest you call several to see what they say.


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