Medical Mistakes – Evaluating Whether It’s Cost-Effective to Pursue a Lawsuit
Personal injury cases in Pennsylvania can be costly to pursue, and medical malpractice lawsuits are no exception. In fact, medical malpractice cases including hospital malpractice or surgical malpractice are some of the most costly types of personal injury cases. Under Pennsylvania law, any person who brings a medical negligence lawsuit is required to present a certificate of merit, a document signed by the attorney certifying that the case has been reviewed by a medical professional who believes the case has merit. The cost of hiring a medical professional who performs this type of review or assessment is quite high. Off the bat, the costs can easily total $10,000, and that’s just for one expert. In some instances, additional experts might be necessary.
Because of the high costs involved in the initial evaluation process, the key question is whether the injuries and damages are serious enough to warrant proceeding with the initial evaluation. In other words, it must be cost-effective to take legal action. Cases which result in serious injuries or death would typically warrant further investigation.
Here are factors which must be considered when determining whether it is cost-effective to take legal action:
- Did the patient recover?
- What is the patient’s future prognosis?
- Did the medical error (misdiagnosis, surgical mistake, etc.) make a difference in the outcome?
- Did the patient suffer any permanent limitations (physical, mental, etc.)?
- What were the economic losses (i.e., medical bills, wage loss, etc.)?
Related: Medical Errors in Pennsylvania – 2016 Info on Serious Harm Events, Incidents and More (June 13, 2017)
Example – Did the Delay in Diagnosis Make a Difference in the Outcome?
A doctor in Philadelphia misdiagnoses cancer for a viral infection. Two months later, the patient seeks a second opinion, and the cancer is discovered. The patient receives cancer treatment and makes a full recovery. The future prognosis looks excellent despite the delay. Here, even if there is clear evidence of the first doctor’s negligence, the circumstances do not warrant proceeding with legal action. That’s because the delay in diagnosis did not make a difference in the outcome.
However, there is a viable case if, due to the delay in diagnosis, the patient’s cancer is discovered many months later and the patient dies, or the patient’s chances of survival are greatly diminished. The damages to the patient are serious enough to warrant proceeding with legal action. Therefore, the next steps would be to have the initial evaluation done.
The patient’s lawyer would hire an expert, the same type of doctor who initially diagnosed the cancer as a viral infection. The expert would review all relevant medical records and determine whether the doctor breached the standard of medical care. Assuming the answer is yes, a medical malpractice lawsuit would be filed and the case would proceed.
Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Lawyers – FREE CONSULTATIONS
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