A doctor can be sued for failure to provide timely medical treatment, including timely referral to a specialist, if that delay amounted to medical malpractice.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim:
1) Failure to Meet Standard of Care
A medical professional acts negligently when he or she fails to exercise the skills and knowledge normally possessed by members of the medical profession in good standing in similar communities.
If expert testimony shows that other doctors in the same community under similar circumstances would not have delayed treatment or would have immediately referred the patient to a specialist, this testimony can establish that the doctor’s conduct fell below the standard of care for a medical professional.
2) Negligence Caused Injury to Patient
A successful malpractice claim must also establish that the doctor’s negligence caused the patient actual harm. This can be tricky because the patient was likely injured or ill to begin with when he or she sought medical assistance, but harm can be established by showing that the doctor’s negligence caused additional injury to the plaintiff or loss of chance.
Medical malpractice claims are very difficult to pursue. Most cases are expensive and lengthy because they involve numerous expert medical witnesses and complicated facts. Doctors are usually unwilling to admit errors, and they often have the resources to contest lawsuits. In addition, many states place limits on medical malpractice awards. Patients interested in pursuing a malpractice case should consider hiring a lawyer to help shoulder the initial costs and provide expertise to win the case.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a delay in medical treatment, you should speak to a personal injury attorney immediately to learn more about the value of your case and what types of recoveries are available to you.