If a hospital pregnancy test was negative but 3 months later I had a miscarriage, can I sue?

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If a hospital pregnancy test was negative but 3 months later I had a miscarriage, can I sue?

I went to the hospital about 6 months ago for an unrelated reason and I mentioned to the doctor how I had been throwing up for about a month, so he gave me a pregnancy test which came back negative.

Then about 2 months ago, I was rushed to the hospital with excruciating pain in my uterus and it turned out that I was miscarrying my 18 week old baby. As you can imagine, this has affected me a great deal emotionally. In 2 more weeks and my baby would’ve been considered a stillborn. I feel that if I was aware of my pregnancy things would’ve been different – I wouldn’t been drinking, I would actually try to eat, etc., etc. Do I have grounds to sue, even if it’s just to help cover the medical bills I have from the miscarriage since I have no insurance?

Asked on April 30, 2018 under Malpractice Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You most likely do not have grounds to sue.
1) First, you'd have to be able to prove with medical evidence or testimony that if you had known you were pregnant, you would not have miscarried--that is, there must be evidence proving that the wrong test result caused the miscarriage. That is not likely to be easy, or even possible to do. What you "feel" would have been different is not enough: courts demand proof. And even if you could prove this, hiring a medical expert (such as a doctor) to examine you, write a report, and testify in court could cost as much or more than you hope to get back (you can't get your expert costs back; you have to bear those yourself in a lawsuit).
2) You'd also have to show not just that they were wrong but that they were unreasonably careless (negligent) in how they gave the test or interpreted the test results. The law accepts that sometimes doctors do everything write but things don't work out--especially in situations like pregnancy tests, which do NOT have a 100% accuracy rate. If the doctor/hospital did everything right but the test gave a wrong answer, they are not liable or responsible for that.


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