Trial Court Erred in Granting Summary Judgment to Defense in MedMal Lawsuit
A 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decided to remand a lawsuit back to the circuit courts after determining that a genuine issue of material fact existed in the plaintiff’s argument. The lawsuit was filed on a theory of medical malpractice.
The plaintiff was a high school student participating in basketball practice when she began to feel numbness in her left arm and leg. The plaintiff informed her coach and sat out the remainder of practice while waiting for her father to pick her up. While in the vehicle, the plaintiff suffered worsening complications. She could no longer move the left side of her body. Her father drove her directly to the emergency room.
When she arrived in the emergency room, a triage nurse initiated the emergency stroke protocol. The nurse immediately notified the doctor who is named in the lawsuit. The doctor ordered a CT scan and blood tests. Upon reviewing the tests, the doctor declared that they were “fine” and released the plaintiff with a diagnosis of “chronic intermittent numbness” with orders to follow up with a neurologist. However, the next day, the plaintiff’s symptoms worsened. Her parents took her to another medical facility. Within 36 hours of being released from the first hospital, the plaintiff had a major stroke. The stroke left the plaintiff with permanent paralysis on the left side of her body. She filed suit against the doctor and the hospital for medical malpractice.
Elements of negligence in a medical malpractice lawsuit
In the case mentioned above, the plaintiff had telltale signs of a stroke. However, something happened with the doctor who reviewed her tests and he diagnosed her with numbness. The plaintiff contends that had the correct diagnosis been made at the time, she could have avoided permanent paralysis on the left side of her body. In this case, the correct diagnosis was made hours later by a second hospital when it was too late. It remains unclear what the doctor saw on the tests that made him think it was okay to release this patient back to her home. However, we do know that the correct diagnosis was a stroke and that a second hospital made the correct diagnosis.
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, you cannot simply argue that you had a negative outcome. You must argue that the attending doctor failed to make a key decision that another reasonable doctor would have made in his position. In this case, the plaintiff is suing on the basis that the doctor failed to make a timely diagnosis of a stroke that was in progress and this led to further injury to the plaintiff.
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