Hepatitis at its lowest common denominator is a disease in which the liver is inflamed. The cause of the inflammation could be from a virus, or not, and the disease may be contagious, or not.
Viral types of hepatitis are those commonly known by lay people and are referred to as type A, B, C, D, or E. Even the chickenpox virus can cause hepatitis by inflaming the liver. Additionally, alcohol and/or drug abuse can cause hepatitis. In total, hepatitis is a common infliction faced by thousands of people every year.
Experienced medical malpractice attorneys know that viral hepatitis is the most common type and that many cases go unreported. Moreover, the disease can be misdiagnosed as being the flu. Some untreated forms of hepatitis may develop into a chronic condition and can lead to cancer, cirrhosis, and at the most extreme, even death.
One type of hepatitis, type B, can be overlooked because of lacking symptoms, its resemblance to the flu, cirrhosis of the liver, and other ailments. Hepatitis A is also missed frequently by doctors because it is reportedly hard to detect. The poor appetite, fatigue, weakness, and fevers caused by hepatitis can also be easily mistakenly attributed to some other cause.
If you have hepatitis and you feel that a medical professional should have diagnosed your condition sooner, you might have a valid claim founded in medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice is a type of negligence attributed to the actions taken by a medical professional during the course of treating a patient. When does negligence arise?
All medical professionals must adhere to a standard of care once a doctor-patient relationship arises. The relationship itself requires the doctor to avoid causing preventable harm by following the standard of care prescribed in the medical profession.
The standard of care will vary by medical specialty and is different from one location to another. But once there is a deviation that another reasonable doctor under similar circumstances would not have committed, negligence has arisen.
Every negligent act, however, does not mean that the medical professional will be civilly liable. This is because the patient must have suffered an injury. There must always be damages. “Damages” is a legal term used to express the patient’s loss in monetary terms. Damages can be compensatory or punitive.
Compensatory damages restore the victim losses such as lost pay, money spent on medical bills, rehabilitation, etc. Punitive damages used to punish a defendant are rarely awarded.
In sum, a failure to diagnose hepatitis timely, or at all, can be a negligent act if the medical professional owed a patient a duty of care, then breached that duty causing injury, and the patient to suffer damages, then there is a chance for civil recovery.
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