Sometimes doing nothing is just as bad as doing the wrong thing. This was the case for Charleston, West Virginia man who had to have his leg amputated after a medical misdiagnosis. The victim went to the emergency room at a local hospital with redness, pain and swelling in his left foot. He couldn’t stand on the leg and said that he had not injured the leg. The emergency room’s records show that the plaintiff was simply suffering from soft tissue tenderness. After being admitted to the hospital for a few days, the plaintiff requested to be moved to Charleston Area Medical Center. Once there doctors were forced to amputate his leg below the knee, which the victim alleges was due to negligence caused by a delay in treatment by the first hospital.
As Virginia (VA) medical malpractice lawyers we know that misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are two of the most common (and damaging) forms of medical malpractice. Some reports suggest that as many as 40% of medical malpractice cases involve a misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis. One of the more common settings for this kind of medical malpractice is the emergency room at the local hospital.
Part of the reason that emergency rooms are the location of misdiagnosis has to do with the nature of the practice of emergency room doctors. Doctors can be held responsible for the injuries their patients suffer from due to either a misdiagnosis of a condition or a failure to diagnose a condition in a timely fashion. However, a cause of action cannot be made simply because a physician misdiagnosed or failed to diagnose you or your loved one.
What has to actually occur is an injury to the patient that was caused by the misdiagnosis or delay diagnosis. The misdiagnosis is said to be a negligent omission, while the actionable injury arises when the misdiagnosis causes a greater harm than existed at the time of the misdiagnosis, according to § 25:102 of Modern Tort Law: Liability and Litigation (2d edition).