Can I sue for medical malpractice for a doctor forcibly retracting my son’s foreskin?

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Can I sue for medical malpractice for a doctor forcibly retracting my son’s foreskin?

I brought my 7 month old son to the doctor for a wellness check, and without warning or consent she forcibly retracted my uncircumcised son’s foreskin. It obviously caused him a lot of pain, he was screaming at the top of his lungs and crying. Later when I changed his diaper, there was a little bit of blood. Now his penis is swollen and red, and very sensitive. He cries and tries to pull away every time I try to wipe him. This was unnecessary and painful for him, can I file a malpractice suit against that doctor for what she did to him?

Asked on August 2, 2011 North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First of all, malpractice--literally, "bad practice," is when a doctor or other health care provider provides medical care that does not meet accepted standards. So if accepted standards during the type of check-up you son had would include what the doctor did, that would not be malpractice.

Second, you can only recover in a malpractice suit for medical costs, pain and suffering for significant injury, disfigurement, or disability, lost wages (if applicable) and other out-of-pocket costs. If your son suffered some pain and sensitivity for a few days or even a few weeks--but no significant medical costs, no permanent disability, etc.--it is highly unlikely that you could recover enough money to justify the costs of a malpractice lawsuit, which is one of the most expensive lawsuits to bring (you need medical expert witnesses, for example).

Another option, if you think this doctor's behavior inappropriate, you could report her to your state's licensing board.


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