When many people in Tarrant County, Texas, think of medical negligence, they think of undiagnosed diseases, inappropriate treatment or horrific procedural errors that leave people grievously wounded. Although tragedies like this do often occur, a recent Texas medical malpractice case in which the plaintiff was healthy and did not sustain physical injuries highlights the fact that negligence and malpractice can take many forms.
Victim wrongly diagnosed with cancer
According to the Houston Chronicle, the plaintiff was told that she had stage IV breast cancer in 2009, a month after she underwent a mastectomy to remove a benign tumor. When a cancer is diagnosed as stage IV, it has spread to other parts of the body and is considered incurable. Accepting the diagnosis, the woman arranged for home care, gave away her belongings and began undergoing treatment.
In addition to seven months of chemotherapy, the woman started taking medication for anxiety. In 2011, she went to a medical center to have her anxiety treated. There, doctors performed scans routinely given to visitors with cancer and developed the suspicion that the diagnosis was wrong. Testing and analysis at another center later confirmed that the woman was cancer-free and had been since the mastectomy; the doctor who made the diagnosis had incorrectly read a PET/CT scan.
Having suffered emotionally and gone through painful rounds of chemotherapy, the woman filed a lawsuit against the doctor. In 2013, a jury awarded the woman more than $300,000 in damages. Her case reflects the fact that malpractice can occur in various ways and that it is important for victims to understand their rights after their lives are affected by medical errors.
Seeking justice for medical errors
According to a Medical News Today article, malpractice remains a serious problem in the U.S. Research cited in the article indicates that more than 100,000 people may die annually because of missed diagnoses, while errors that occur in a hospital setting contribute to close to 200,000 fatalities. One-third of people hospitalized experience a medical error.
To pursue a malpractice case, a victim must show that a medical professional failed to provide a proper standard of care, and that an injury occurred as a direct result of that professional’s failure. The victim must also establish that the injury is severe and has caused serious consequences, which can include:
- Severe or chronic pain.
- Decreased earning potential.
- Physical or emotional suffering.
- Other hardship.
When all of these elements are present, a victim may be able to pursue compensation for medical negligence. There are a variety of mistakes that can provide grounds for a malpractice case, which is why it is important to seek professional advice following a medical mistake, even if it does not fall into one of the most common categories of errors.
If you have been harmed by a medical mistake, you should discuss the specifics of your case with an attorney to determine whether you have grounds for seeking compensation.