Can I get compensated for pain and suffering from a hospital?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I get compensated for pain and suffering from a hospital?

I went to the ER with chest pain. They admitted me for 2 days and did stress tests and said everything was fine. Then, 2 months later, my doctor did another stress test and found 3 blockages, 1 of which was 90% blocked. I had severe chest pain while my doctor performed other tests trying to find the problem while relying on the hospital’s results.

Asked on October 29, 2018 under Malpractice Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You can always ask the hospital/ER for compensation, but they likely will not provide it. The below assumes they do not, in which case, to get money, you'd have to sue.
First, you'd have to show that the first tests were not just wrong but that the ER was negligent, or unreasonably careless, in performing the tests. The law accepts that medicine is an art, not a science; sometimes doctors do everything correctly and get wrong or bad results. So you would have to show that the ER did something wrong.
Second, you have to show that their error caused your pain or problems: that is, not just that the pain, etc. occured after the first set of tests, but that had the first set been done correctly, you would have been able to do things (e.g. get treatment) which prevented the pain and other problems.
Doing those two things will require hiring a medical expert--a doctor--to examine you, write a report, and testify in court. That can cost up to a few thousand dollars, and is over and above legal fees. It is certainly possible that you will spend the money on the lawsuit and lose: no lawsuit is ever guaranteed.
But the amount of money you can get if you win is based on the impact on your life of the pain, impairment, etc.--it's severity and duration. For a few days or even weeks of pain later resolved,  you would get comparatively liittle money--possibly less than you spend on the lawsuit. Large pain and suffering awards typically come from years of pain or disabilty, or even lifetime conditions. It is not clear that legal action would be economically worthwhile.

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 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.

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