During the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients delayed medical treatment or had appointments pushed back by their healthcare providers. Over 50% of surveyed patients reported that this delayed medical treatment caused their health to worsen.
If a patient chooses to delay medical treatment, they cannot hold their doctors accountable for their worsening conditions. What if, however, the delays were caused by their healthcare professionals?
When the latter occurs, it could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. The best thing to do is contact your local medical malpractice lawyer.
Now, let’s talk about whether or not a delay in medical treatment is grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Read on to learn more about medical malpractice law.
Why Do Medical Treatment Delays Occur?
There are several reasons why medical treatment delays occur, though not all of them meet the standard of legal negligence. Medical treatment delays may occur when:
- a healthcare practice is understaffed or overbooked
- the patient is resistant to care or has concerns about receiving care
- a medical professional does not understand the extent of a patient’s health status or medical history
- a medical professional is willingly failing to meet the standard duty of care
- the medical professional is trying out treatments that do not meet the typical guidelines for the patient’s known condition
Many injuries and illnesses require a quick and appropriate response. Regardless of the reason for the delay, delays may lead to worsening health conditions and even death.
What Standards Must You Meet to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
In order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you will need to satisfy the four standards of negligence. To do so, you will need to establish that:
- the medical professional owed you the duty of care
- the medical professional breached the reasonable standard of care
- you have suffered significant physical and financial damages
- these damages were caused by the medical professional’s negligence
If you cannot satisfy all four standards, you will not be able to file a successful lawsuit. For example, even if a medical professional delayed treatment in a negligent manner, it won’t matter in a court of law unless the plaintiff sustained significant medical and financial damages as a result. The same is true of cases where the delayed treatment does not qualify as negligent.
When Is Delayed Medical Treatment Negligent?
Delayed medical treatment is considered negligent when the delay:
- runs counter to the reasonable standard of care
- caused foreseeable results
Would another medical professional in a similar position make a different choice? Did the delay lead to an outcome that another medical professional could have foreseen? If so, it is likely that your delay meets the legal standard of negligence.
Examples of Negligent Medical Treatment Delays
To get a better sense of negligent medical treatment delays, let’s look at a few examples.
A patient with a family history of cancer goes to the doctor showing early signs of cancer. The doctor does not test her for cancer, so she doesn’t receive treatment for over a year. Another doctor later screens her for cancer and discovers that because it was untreated, it has now progressed aggressively.
A patient describes symptoms that are consistent with diabetes. Rather than testing the patient for diabetes, the doctor tells him that the symptoms will clear if they reduce their alcohol consumption. Because the patient does not receive proper treatment for diabetes, he develops complications including heart disease and kidney failure.
Both of these examples satisfy the four standards of negligence required to open a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Proving Medical Malpractice in Cases of Delayed Treatment
If you believe that you are the victim of medical malpractice, you have two years to file your claim. With the help of a medical malpractice lawyer, you will need to establish the facts of your case beyond a preponderance of the evidence. Let’s take a quick look at the types of evidence you’ll need.
Evidence of Damages
You will need to provide evidence of your physical and financial damages. Relevant evidence may include:
- medical records
- medical bills
- proof of lost income (i.e. pay stubs)
Your lawyer may also include non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, in your lawsuit.
Evidence of Negligence
Proving negligence isn’t as easy as it may seem. It often requires:
- hospital records
- video evidence
- standard healthcare policies and regulations
- incorrect prescriptions or diagnostic records
- testimony of your experience
- witness testimony
Some medical malpractice claims also rely on res ipsa loquitur, or “evidence that speaks for itself.” An example of this is an x-ray revealing a sponge or piece of medical equipment left in your body during surgery.
Expert Witness Testimony
One of the most important reasons to hire a medical malpractice lawyer is access to expert witnesses. In medical malpractice cases, expert witnesses are medical professionals that work in fields relevant to your case.
An expert witness can testify that the defendant failed to meet the reasonable standard of care. By reviewing your medical history, they can pinpoint the moments in which negligence occurred. They can also testify to the fact without a delay in treatment, you would not be facing the same health concerns that you are today.
RHINO Lawyers Medical Malpractice Representation
If you believe that delayed treatment has caused you harm, it’s time to consult a medical malpractice attorney. It’s possible that you can open a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, you shouldn’t do so without representation.
At RHINO Lawyers, we’re proud to fight for Tampa’s accident victims. Our goal is to secure the highest possible settlement while allowing our clients the time they need to recover. To get started, contact us and we’ll schedule your free case consultation.
CONTACT A TAMPA Medical Malpractice ATTORNEY
In short, if you believe you’re a victim of medical malpractice, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your case.
Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.RHINO.77.