Is it malpractice if a doctor delayed tests and now I need more aggressive treatment?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it malpractice if a doctor delayed tests and now I need more aggressive treatment?

I am seeing an orthopedic doctor for a broken wrist. We have had 4 appointments over a 2 month appointment and at each appointment I have continually expressed concern with severe pain, numbness, swelling and lack of mobility with my hand. I was told that an MRI/CT was a costly test and would not change the treatment plan. My cast was removed after 3 weeks but the swelling continues although it is improving, however the pain and mobility are the same. Out of frustration of not being heard that I believed there was further damage, I went to my primary care doctor and explained what was going on. She recommended that I maybe see someone else and ordered the MRI as it would be another several weeks until my follow-up. An MRI was ordered and completed with the results of a fracture and torn ligament. Now, more aggressive treatment may be required because of the duration from injury to diagnosis, 11 weeks. Do I have a case?

Asked on June 30, 2019 under Malpractice Law, Arizona


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

Answered 3 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).
Prior to filing a lawsuit for negligence against the orthopedist, it may be possible to settle the case with his/her malpractice insurance carrier.
When you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor or are declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary, which means having reached a point in your medical treatment where no further improvement is anticipated, obtain your medical bills, medical reports and documentation of wage loss. Your claim filed with the malpractice insurance carrier should include those items.
Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement. The medical reports document your medical condition and treatment, and are 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 them and file a lawsuit for negligence against the orthopedist.
If the case is not settled, your lawsuit against the orthopedist must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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