If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with having Lupus, then I am sure you know how difficult it was to finally receive a diagnosis. This is largely because lupus is hard to diagnose. Why? Because many symptoms of lupus are general in nature; fevers, mouth sores, swollen joints, sensitivity to sunlight, etc. Some of the symptoms may be life threatening, others may not be severe at all.
Experienced medcial malpractice attorneys know, however, that sometimes the patient would have been diagnosed sooner had the medical professional followed the proper standards of care. In fact, lupus left untreated can lead to cancer, kidney disease, organ damage, and even can become fatal.
For those of you who don’t know, lupus is a chronic inflammatory/autoimmune disease in which the victim’s immune system turns on the body, attacking organs, joints, tissues, and blood. In addition to the symptoms listed above, victims may experience rashes on the face, loss of hair, purple fingers, chest pain, muscle pain, swollen legs, swollen glands, and fatigue.
When would a failure to diagnose this, or being misdiagnosed as having some other disease/ailment rise to the level of medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a form of negligence that is only related to the acts of a medical professional during the course of treating a patient. Successful negligence cases require a showing that the defendant owed the patient-plaintiff a duty of care; that that duty was breached; proximate causation; and the existence of damages.
The duty that a medical professional must adhere to will depend on the type of medicine practiced by the offending medical professional and on the geographic region in which the professional practiced. This means that the duty is judged by another doctor within the same community; if another doctor in the same specialization and community would not have done what the defendant-doctor did if placed under the same circumstances, then the duty was breached.
Simply breaching his/her duty to the patient will not be actionable negligence unless the breach was the direct and natural consequence of the breach itself; something else must not have caused the patient’s injury. And of course there must have been some sort of damages suffered by the patient; pain, suffering, lost wages, lost earning potential, rehabilitation costs, etc.
These types of damages are called compensatory damages and they are calculated for a jury by an expert qualified at quantifying losses into monetary sums. Damages can also be punitive. But note that civil courts were not intended to punish people; rather they are used to restore the plaintiff to the position in which he was prior to the wrongdoing; so punitive awards are rare.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.