In the past, a lawyer acting for a wronged patient might have advised his or her client first to report the matter to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), the professional body mandated to register health professionals and ensure practitioners are fit to practise, before proceeding with a civil case in the courts. Even though the HPCSA does not have the power to arbitrate on compensation, the rationale was that an HPCSA ruling and censure of the doctors concerned would improve the chances of a patient succeeding in a civil case.
The Florida Supreme Court has explained what plaintiffs must prove in order to recover emotional distress damages. The simplest way to prove emotional distress is with a physical impact that results in a physical injury, like a car accident. It’s not hard to prove that emotional trauma often accompanies physical trauma. However, a plaintiff may also demonstrate emotional distress by proving that he or she:
Loss of consortium refers to the impact the injury has had on the injured party’s ability to provide love, affection, companionship, or services. People often think that loss of consortium refers to the impact the injury has had on a married couple’s sexual relationship. But it’s broader than that. Many states now allow children and parents, in addition to spouses, to bring loss of consortium claims. Note that the person who would sue for loss of consortium is the spouse, parent or child of the person who was injured.
More and more people in South Africa are taking their doctors and other healthcare professionals to court for medical malpractice – so much so that the increase in litigation is contributing to our high medical inflation. But you can’t take such action lightly: the legal process is fraught with pitfalls and can be very drawn out, and the costs can be high. You need to be sure of your case, and of all the hoops you’ll have to jump through, before pursuing a claim.
I know it's difficult to live with the "what ifs" of having cancer but in this case, if you do not yet know if you have the disease, you have to wait to see if you actually do have it. Then, you can contact a personal injury attorney in your area and they will help analyze your situation. You can contact as many personal injury attorneys as you want until you find one that will take your case.
Medical malpractice cases can be timely and costly, which is why most such cases are settled out of court. In addition, because medical malpractice insurance companies reject a significantly large portion of medical malpractice claims, it may be in your best interest to settle out-of-court or risk having no case at all. Keep in mind, however, that if you believe you have a strong case, then you should seek a larger settlement.
Not true! There are thousands of physicians sued successfully every year without ending in the loss of their licenses or practices. Although your doctor will have to spend some time defending the suit, throughout the process he will most likely still be able to see his patients and conduct his life as normal. Furthermore, after the conclusion of the suit, he will most likely go back to treating his patients – albeit, hopefully, more carefully this time.
In order to prove that the defendant's conduct was extreme and outrageous, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant's behavior was unacceptable and uncivilized behavior that a reasonable person in the plaintiff's position would believe the conduct was extreme and outrageous. Plaintiff's sensitivity is irrelevant since the standard is viewed objectively.
“Special damages (compensation for the injured party’s future medical expenses and loss of income) probably cannot be capped in South Africa, and this usually represents the largest part of any claim. Without adequate compensation for legitimate injuries, patients would be totally dependent on our public healthcare system for their future care. Receiving compensation from private sector healthcare providers and then relying on the state for any shortfalls is unfair,” he says.
No one is infallible however, where a person has a life his/her hands it is expected that they will do all that is require according to the standards expected to have little or no errors. It is on that basis that a person can sue for misdiagnosis because the medical practitioner showed some level of incompetence which is unacceptable. A person can sue the doctor and the hospital if the doctor is an employee of the hospital.
3. Evidence - keep track of any evidence which could be relevant to your case. Keep detailed records of your appointments with your GP, together with records of any telephone consultations and referral appointments. Your solicitor will arrange to obtain and copy of your medical notes and x-rays. You will have to pass this information on to your lawyer and it will be a lot easier if you have it at hand. Keep any prescriptions, receipts from further treatments, notes of further treatment and a diary detailing the progression of your health issues. For example, if you fell ill with appendicitis and your GP failed to diagnose it, you should keep a note of the progression of your condition, if you are well enough to do so. All of this is not vital, but very helpful.
I may not live long enough to see minor children gain the same rights that adults have to sue for outrageous instances of extreme emotional abuse (and physical abuse, and sexual abuse) but I hope that some day minor children WILL be given the right to sue their parents for ghastly instances of child abuse (such as sexual molestation), emotional abuse, and skin-crawling incidents of child neglect and child exploitation.
This is probably the number one reason why you don’t want to sue your doctor. While it is true that most lawsuits can take some time to become resolved, it is well worth the wait. However, there are ways to speed up the process: file your lawsuit as soon as it is determined that the case has merit and make sure that the court imposes deadlines for every step of the lawsuit, such as specific dates for depositions, defense medical examinations, and the exchange of discovery responses. This will prevent the lawsuit from the inevitable delays presented by defense attorneys and their insurers and keep the case on the proverbial “fast track” to trial.
For example, imagine that you repeatedly told your doctor that you had joint pain and a rash, and the doctor just shrugged off your comments about the joint pain as the normal process of aging and gave you an ointment for the rash. He ignored your family history of psoriasis and overlooked the connection between the two symptoms that could have led to a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis until after you suffered severe complications -- like damage to your heart valve.
I was an RN and suffered serious and permanent harm from my cancer surgery. There were many errors, including my waking up during surgery, life-threatening infection, internal sutures that did not dissolve, renal failure, a collapsed lung after hospital discharge, abscesses and wound dehiscence. Years later, I am homebound and unable to work. I would be making $80-100,000/year now or more but am stuck barely above poverty on Social Security Disability. Since I and the various insurances have spent over $2 million for my care, and I do not have enough money to obtain all the care and medications I need, I am very unhappy. I have a potential new abscess now. It is a living horror, and the cancer may return. I am always in pain. No attorney would take my case. Even the failure to diagnose the cancer for years, with facts right there for every doctor I went to with my symptoms, isn't actionable. I am however, alive.
While some medical errors are unavoidable, and things go wrong even when the utmost skill and care is used, doctors and other health care providers can be held legally responsible for any injuries that result from the provision of negligent or sub-standard care to patients. If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against a doctor, it will most likely be under a legal theory known as medical malpractice.