Do i have a case to sue the hospital if I was misdiagnosed?

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Do i have a case to sue the hospital if I was misdiagnosed?

I went to the ER because I hurt my foot. I was told that I had a sprain and was sent home with my foot wrapped; I was told to ice it. Months later my foot still hurt so I got a referral to see foot doctor who said I had a dislocated fracture not a sprain. He was able to see my X-ray from the hospital. He said that I would need surgery to fix it. Now he also wants to do a CT scan to see if anything else is hurt.

Asked on June 7, 2013 under Malpractice Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You *may* have a case; the issue is whether the hospital was negligent, or unreasonably careless, in coming to the diagnosis of a sprain. For example, if normally a foot would be X-rayed when you first came in with the complaints/symptoms that you did, and the hospital did not do an X-ray, that could be malpractice. On the other hand, if most reasonable doctors would have done or concluded what the hospital did, then there was no malpractice; the hospital may have been wrong, but it would not have been unreasonably careless, and it's the unreasonable carelessness that leads to liability. (The law accepts that medicine is not perfect; sometimes doctors, etc. do everything right but still get it wrong.)

Another issue, though, is whether it's worth it to sue: malpractice suits can be *very* costly, since you need at least one, maybe more, medical experts. If you incur significant additional medical costs due to the delay in diagnosis, or you suffered a significant impairment of your life due to the misdiagnosis, then it is probably worth it to consult with a malpractice attorney and seriously consider a suit. On the other hand, if you're paying now for the same medical care you otherwise would have paid for earlier (so no significant increase in cost, just a change in the timing) and your life was not meaningfully impaired, it's likely not worthwhile to sue.


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