Failure to Treat: When Inaction Leads to Injury

By Greg Kohn
Partner

Medical malpractice is any act or omission by a physician that deviates from the standard of care and causes injury to the patient. Failure to treat a patient can result in severe consequences, such as the deterioration of the patient’s condition, which can lead to prolonged suffering, irreversible damage, or even death. Such a serious issue in the medical field is not to be taken lightly, and speaking with our competent New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys can help safeguard your health, as well as the health of your loved ones. 

Legal Ramifications of Medical Inaction

All medical professionals are duty-bound to provide their patients with appropriate care, and a failure to do so constitutes negligence. The legal system, while it offers recourse for these cases, understanding these avenues can prove to be complex. Some essential terms patients should understand when considering legal action are:

  • Duty of Care: The legal requirement for healthcare professionals to adhere to a reasonable standard of care. 
  • Breach of Duty: Failure by a healthcare professional to meet the standard of care.
  • Damages: The patient’s harm suffered as a result of failure to treat.
  • Causation: Direct linkage between the breach of duty and harm caused.

Talking to an experienced attorney will help you navigate these complexities.

What are Examples of Failure to Treat

You count on your medical professional to provide optimal care for you. Unfortunately, there are instances when this does not happen, and this can lead to serious health complications. Some common examples of failure to treat are:

  • Missed diagnosis: A patient with symptoms but the medical professional fails to diagnose, leading to a lack of treatment. 
  • Inadequate follow-up: The failure to monitor a patient’s progress and adjust treatment accordingly. 
  • Lack of specialist referral: The patient’s symptoms are identified as those that require a specialist’s expertise, but the medical professional fails to refer to an appropriate specialist, delaying what could be critical treatment. 
  • Ignoring test results: Results get back and read abnormal, potentially indicating a serious health issue, but there is a failure to act on these results or inform the patient, ultimately leading to a lack of needed medical intervention. 

These are just some situations that can be classified as failure to treat and may be grounds for a lawsuit. 

Relevant Laws and Regulations

As a patient, you have rights. Many patients, however, are not familiar with their rights. Knowing the relevant laws and regulations that govern the duty of care and your rights can help you navigate the complex world of medical malpractice claims. Some relevant laws which apply are:

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): HIPAA protects your information and your rights.
  • State Medical Malpractice Laws: Every state is mandated by its own set of laws that dictate the handling of medical malpractice claims. In New Jersey, the standard statute of limitations to file a claim is two years, starting from the date you suffered from negligence. 

To further help you understand how these laws can apply to your situation, professional legal consultation is best.

Seeking Justice for Medical Negligence

If you or a loved one has been harmed due to a medical professional’s failure to treat, it is critical to seek legal advice. A qualified attorney can help you advocate for your rights. Some steps to consider are:

  1. Document everything: Keep detailed records of your medical treatments, records, communications with medical professionals, your symptoms, and any changes to your condition.
  2. Seek a second opinion: An evaluation from another medical professional will help corroborate your claim and provide a greater perspective on the negligence. 
  3. Calculate damages: Assess the extent to which damage was sustained. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other symptom that impacts your quality of life. 

Taking these steps can help you build a compelling case to seek justice for medical negligence. 

Reach Out to Qualified Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Failure to treat can have devastating consequences. To secure your best interest and optimal representation, seeking excellent and professional legal services is advisable. Our medical malpractice attorneys understand the legalities of medical negligence and will work to take the appropriate steps to protect your rights. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.