Do I have a malpractice suit?

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Do I have a malpractice suit?

I was injured at work on 12/17/14. The doctor diagnosed me with tendon dysfunction or tear in my ankle and treatment was wearing a boot and physical therapy. This diagnosis was made after an x-ray being the only diagnostic test performed. At my initial physical therapy appointment, it was documented that I had total loss of movement in my lesser toes. This was not consistent with the original diagnosis. The doctor dismissed these new findings as inconsequential and did not address it. I failed to make any significant improvement with this treatment program. After three months I tried to return to work at limited capacity which was unsuccessful as my condition immediately worsened to the point of not being able to perform my duties. During this time frame, my physical therapists continued to document neurological symptoms including numbness, pin and needles, excessive pain and loss of movement of my toes. My attending physician continued to dismiss the symptoms as in consequential. After more than eight months of no significant improvement, the insurance provider demanded that I be evaluated by an independent medical examiner. The IME found my condition was not fixed and stable. He recommended that neurological testing be done because he suspected I might have tarsal tunnel syndrome. My attending physician disagreed with all of his findings and recommendations and declared that I was at maximum medical improvement and released me back to work at full capacity. At that point my employers self-insured worker compensation provider denied any further treatment or benefits and initiated closure proceedings. After attempting to work for four months, I was deemed unable to perform my duties in my current condition by my employer and put out of work again. I sought out my own independent medical care and was diagnosed with tarsal tunnel syndrome. This is the exact condition that the IME recommended I be tested for and the attending physician pointedly disagreed with a year earlier. As a result, I have been suffering for nearly two years from a painful, debilitating neurological condition which symptoms were repeatedly documented, communicated, and dismissed by the attending physician. Do I have a malpractice suit?

Asked on August 12, 2016 under Malpractice Law, Washington

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Medical malpractice is negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable medical practitioner in the community would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).
Your doctor repeatedly rejecting the diagnosis on which other doctors concurred and therefore not prescribing an appropriate course of treatment, it could be argued constitutes a failure to exercise due care.
Prior to filing a lawsuit for negligence against the doctor, it may be possible to settle the case with his/her malpractice insurance carrier.
Your claim filed with the malpractice insurance carrier should include your medical bills, medical reports and documentation of wage loss.
Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your condition and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.
If the case is settled with the malpractice insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.
If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the malpractice insurance carrier, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the doctor.
If the case is NOT settled, your lawsuit for negligence against the doctor must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


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