Can my 82 year old mother sue a hospital if they misdiagnosed her injuries?

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Can my 82 year old mother sue a hospital if they misdiagnosed her injuries?

She recently fell off of a curb at a hospital. She was examined in the ER and told that she had 2 cracked ribs. She was then given some pain meds and told to contact her physician. Her physician actually contacted her the following day saying he saw the X-rays and wasn’t pleased with what he saw. When she was able to make the trip to him the following week, she in fact had 5 broken ribs, a broken elbow and rotator cup injury.

Asked on December 12, 2014 under Malpractice Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

To have a valid malpractice claim, you need two things:

First, you need liability, or fault, on the part of the doctor or hospital. Missing an easy diagnosis, one that any reasonable medical care provider would have been expected to make, can be negligent, or unreasonably careless, and so could establish fault and liability.

Second, you need damages, or injuries and costs, caused by that negligent or at-fault act; that's because the civil (non-criminal; lawsuits) legal system compensates for actual lossses or injuries. So if the delay gettng a correct diagnosis caused your mother to incur significant additional medical costs, or caused her injuries to get much worse, leading to disability or impairment, she may have a viable lawsuit. But if that didn't happen--if the misdiagnosis did not hurt her in some signficant way--there's no point in suing. Not only would she recover little or no money, but malpractice suits can be very expensive to bring (you need a medical expert on your side)--she could spend far more on the claim then she would get.


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