What are my rights if a hospital failed to properly treat me?

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What are my rights if a hospital failed to properly treat me?

About 5 months ago I was refused admittance by a prominent hospital in Los Angeles for four days straight after failed home treatment. After my first visit I was advised to return if my symptoms got worse. Each day saw a subsequent increase in the severity of symptoms (fever and heart rate, shortness of breath etc). Each time the hospital stabilized my condition and sent me home. The fifth day that I sought treatment I went to another hospital and was diagnosed with a severe blood infection. The previous hospital refused test my blood or cultures after an initial diagnosis of influenza A. Is this an example of malpractice or patient dumping?

Asked on May 12, 2015 under Malpractice Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It may be malpractice IF a reasonable care giver would have promptly diagnosed the blood infection and provided different treatment.

However, whether it is worthwhile bringing a malpractice case--which can be one of the most complicated and expensive types of cases to bring (you need to hire a medical expert, for example, and also need a lawyer--malpractice cases are too expensive to handle "pro se," or as your own attorney--depends on whether you:

1) Incurred significant additional out-of-pocket (not paid by insurance) medical bills due to the first hospitial's failure to diagnose; and/or

2) Lost significant wages due to be being sicker for longer or having a longer recovery, due to the first hospital's failure to diagnose; and/or

3) Suffered significant and long lasting impairment (at least several weeks or a few months) or disability due to the first hospital's failure to diagose.

The problem is, the legal system only provides compensation for actual costs and injuries, so if you did not suffer significant injury or costs due to the delay in diagnosis, you'd spend more on the case than you could get from the case.

If you feel that you did suffer some significant costs, economic losses, or physical injury, speak with a medical malpractice attorney in person in detail to evalute the strength and possible worth of your case.

Remember though: since the potential malpractice is the failure of the first hospital to have diagnosed you for four days, you can only recover for losses or injuries caused by that four-day delay.


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