A Fort Lauderdale FL medical malpractice lawyer knows that chronically ill adults are often overlooked or outright mistreated by the medical care system in the United States. However, because their needs are somewhat extraordinary, many physicians are held to have acted within the standard of care even if a negative outcome results in the patient. In other cases, it is held that chronically ill patients may require more effort to meet the ordinary standard of care. Either way, this does not change the fact that a physician can still be held liable for malpractice with regards to a chronically ill patient, despite their unique challenges.
PRONE TO EXPERIENCE MEDICAL ERRORS
Studies have shown that for a variety of reasons, chronically ill patients in the United States do not receive optimal care, at least not by standards in other nations. One major study found that patients in this country are the most likely to forego care due to excessive costs, and also to experience medical errors and badly managed or coordinated care (for example, duplicating tests or being made to wait long periods of time for appointments).
Approximately 34 percent of chronically ill patients reported medical errors or negligence in their care, compared to as low as 17 percent in Dutch patients and 19 percent in German patients in the study.
As a Fort Lauderdale FL medical malpractice lawyer can explain, access to care is also a problem for the chronically ill in the United States, and it can be argued that a lack of access to care may constitute a breach of duty in certain situations. In the above study, approximately 60 percent of patients reported visiting an emergency room for care they said would have been treatable by a regular physician if an appointment had been available. Only Canada reported a higher value, at 64 percent.
UNUSUAL THRESHOLD FOR INJURY
Another common way in which malpractice is committed against the chronically ill is when their potential susceptibility to injury or negative outcomes is misjudged. A pre-existing condition may be aggravated, or a new one may be created due to a misunderstanding of a person’s physical health. Legally, it is recognized that a chronically ill person may suffer an injury where a healthy person would not or suffer a worse injury. This is referred to as the “eggshell doctrine.”
In other words, if a chronically ill plaintiff experiences a negative reaction to a medication that a person of average constitution would not, it still means that the doctor may be liable for malpractice if it can be determined that they breached the standard of care. A doctor may not sit back on probabilities when a patient’s health is at stake; if harm is suffered, and it can be proven that it was directly related to the medical professional’s conduct, it is more likely than not that the doctor will be held liable. A skilled Fort Lauderdale FL medical malpractice lawyer can help a chronically ill patient that has been a victim of malpractice pursue damages for their injuries.