What Are Your Rights if You Got Sent Home from the Hospital Without a Diagnosis?
When you go to the hospital for treatment, you expect the doctor to provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment recommendations. So, what happens if you get sent home without any diagnosis at all?
This scenario is more common than you might think. In fact, not only are these “failure to diagnose” scenarios extremely common, but they are among the leading grounds for successful medical malpractice claims in Louisiana and throughout the United States. According to Claims Journal, a recent study found that medical malpractice claims involving diagnostic errors accounted for 28% of all payouts. Overall, the study found that “inaccurate or delayed diagnoses were cited in 34% of medical malpractice claims where the patient died or was seriously disabled.”
Depending on the circumstances of your doctor’s failure to diagnose, you could have a medical malpractice claim as well. Keep reading to learn more about your legal rights:
Failure to Diagnose in Hospitals: A Leading Form of Medical Malpractice
While failure to diagnose is a leading form of medical malpractice, not all diagnostic failures rise to the level of malpractice. To constitute medical malpractice, a failure to diagnose must involve a failure to meet the requisite standard of care.
All doctors owe a professional duty to treat their patients in accordance with the prevailing standard of care. Broadly speaking, this means devoting the time, attention, and resources necessary to provide a timely and accurate diagnosis. If a doctor fails to consider a patient’s medical history, fails to perform an adequate physical examination, fails to order necessary tests, or misreads a patient’s test results, these are all mistakes that could lead to a failure to diagnose and justify a claim for medical malpractice.
These (and other) mistakes can result in failure to diagnose all types of medical conditions. This includes physical injuries, illnesses, disorders, and other conditions such as:
- Allergic reactions
- Bacterial infections
- Bone fractures
- Bowel and bladder conditions
- Eye and ear injuries
- Heart attacks
- Organ failure
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI)
- Surgical injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Viral illnesses
Calculating the Costs of a Hospital’s Failure to Diagnose
If you were sent home from the hospital without a diagnosis (and your provider’s failure to diagnose constitutes medical malpractice), the amount of compensation you can recover depends on the answers to several questions. Some of the key questions are:
1. Is It Too Late for You To Avoid Complications or a Shortened Life Expectancy?
If your doctor’s failure to diagnose was inconsequential, then you may not have any losses to recover—and in this scenario it typically won’t make sense to file a claim. However, if your doctor’s failure to diagnose led to unnecessary complications or shortened your life expectancy, then you should absolutely consult with a medical malpractice lawyer about holding the hospital accountable.
2. What Medical Expenses Have You Incurred (and Will You Incur in the Future)?
When you have a medical malpractice claim for failure to diagnose, you can recover not only your medical costs to date, but also your anticipated medical costs in the future. This includes all treatment expenses, prescriptions, and other out-of-pocket costs necessitated by your doctor’s mistake.
3. Has the Failure To Diagnose Prevented You From Working (or Will it Prevent You From Working in the Future)?
In addition to recovering your out-of-pocket costs, you can also recover your lost earnings if you are unable to work as a result of your missed diagnosis. Here, too, this includes both your losses to date and your anticipated losses in the years to come.
4. Have You Experienced (or Will You Experience) Pain, Suffering, Mental Anguish, or Loss of Enjoyment of Life?
Louisiana’s medical malpractice laws allow patients to recover just compensation for their pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other “non-economic” losses. If you have experienced (or will experience) any of these losses as a result of your doctor’s malpractice, your lawyer can determine an appropriate amount of compensation to seek on your behalf.
5. Do Your Losses Exceed Louisiana’s Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages?
While Louisiana’s medical malpractice laws allow patients to recover their economic and non-economic losses, they also cap the total amount patients can claim. Currently, Louisiana’s cap on medical malpractice damages is $500,000. This applies to all of the losses discussed above except for future medical expenses.
What To Do if You Got Sent Home from the Hospital Without a Diagnosis
If you got sent home from the hospital without a diagnosis and you believe your doctor made a mistake, there are some important steps you should try to take promptly. Most importantly, you should seek an accurate diagnosis if you haven’t done so already. You should go to a new healthcare provider that is unaffiliated with the hospital you visited previously. If you aren’t sure where to go for a diagnosis and treatment, we can help you.
You will also want to collect any records you have from your hospital visit. This includes your appointment confirmation, your bill, and any scans or other test results you may have received.
Finally, you should schedule an appointment with a local medical malpractice lawyer. You should do this sooner rather than later, as unnecessary delays can create unnecessary challenges for your claim. You can get a free initial consultation in person or remotely, and your lawyer will be able to use the records from your hospital visit to provide a preliminary assessment of your legal rights. Since lawyers handle medical malpractice claims on a contingency-fee basis, you won’t have to pay anything unless you recover just compensation.
Discuss Your Legal Rights with Alexandra, LA Medical Malpractice Lawyer Chris J. Roy, Jr.
If you need to speak with a lawyer about seeking just compensation for a hospital’s failure to diagnose, we encourage you to contact us promptly. To schedule a free consultation with Alexandria, LA medical malpractice lawyer Chris J. Roy, Jr., call 318-310-7382 or get in touch online today.