Misdiagnosed tumor led to surgery
UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022
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Misdiagnosed tumor led to surgery
My seven-year-old daughter was complaining
about her stomach and after not being able to
figure out why are doctors ordered an
ultrasound where they learned she had a tumor
on her ovary. We were told she would need
surgery and when that day came within 20
minutes they learned that there was no tumor
and that she should be fine. I’m really left
uneasy about this and had felt that my daughter
did not need surgery to begin with if perhaps
this is something that happens all the time and
this was handled correctly. I don’t feel
comfortable and before I get a second opinion I
would like to know what my rights are.
Asked on September 8, 2017 under Malpractice Law, Pennsylvania
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 5 years ago | Contributor
Whether this is malpractice depends on whether the average reasonable doctor, faced with the ultrasound results and other symptoms or test results, would have concluded that there was a tumor or not. The law does not require doctors to be perfect and recognizes that medicine is as much an art as a science; doctors are not penalized for being wrong so long as they performed in accordance with current accepted medical standards. Only if the average reasonable doctor would not have thought there was a tumor might there have been malpractice.
Even if there was malpractice, you can only recover for actual out-of-pocket costs incurred or for long-term (typically, months or longer) significant disability, life impairment, disfigurement, etc. If your daughter is, as we hope, ok, and if you have not incurred large (many thousands of dollars) out-of-pocket (not paid by insurance, Medicare/caid, etc.) medical costs, a malpractice suit would likely not be worthwhile. Malpractice cases can be very expensive: you must hire a medical expert (e.g. another doctor) to examine the patient and her "chart," write a report, and testify, since a non-doctor cannot offer a meaningful opinion about what is or is not good medical care. Such a medical expert witness can cost thousands of dollars, and that's even before considering the cost of an attorney (strongly recommended). Therefore if you did not incur very large medical costs and your daughter is ok, you could spend more on a lawsuit than you would get back.
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