The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the High Count in Minnesota has added “loss of chance” to the list of items that the victims of malpractice can sue over. The case centered on a child who was not diagnosed with cancer that eventually spread, requiring extensive treatments. The child is currently going through chemotherapy to treat the cancer and the parents are suing over the misdiagnosis.
Loss of Chance
The loss of chance in such claims is the loss of the chance to get medical treatment and thus, survival, for a medical condition. Opponents of the ruling consider it to be overreaching and say that it will impact doctor’s ability to do their jobs. Advocates say that the ruling allows those who were harmed through a misdiagnosis or wrong diagnoses – which account for nearly half of malpractice lawsuits- to get compensated for the lacking care that they received.
In the ruling, the High Court found fault with the previous way that this issue had been handled. It also found that a patients chance to recover from an illness or simply survive is something of value and that it is something for which patients can be compensated if they have that chance taken away from them.
Misdiagnosis and Medical Malpractice Claims
Misdiagnosis is very common among medical malpractice claims, but it has to have caused some sort of injury in order to be something that can be sued over. The recent finding in Minnesota is not unique. There are more than 20 states that have similar laws that allow patients to sue for lost chances. This means that in those states, missing a chance to get a condition treated due to a misdiagnosis is considered in and of itself to be an injury and those plaintiffs may be able to add damages for that loss of chance onto their existing lawsuits, in some cases.
Every state has its own peculiarities where medical malpractice law is concerned, however, and those laws can be affected by court rulings. In some states, there have been concerted efforts to make malpractice law more restrictive, the argument being that doctors will come to those states to work because it’s hard for them to be sued over malpractice. In any situation however, attorneys who work in the state where the lawsuit is being filed have to be consulted with to determine the current state of the law and what can be sued over.