Could Your Medical Problem Have Been Prevented?
There are a great many types of medical malpractice, all potentially dangerous for patients. At Nagel Rice, we take cases involving medical malpractice very seriously. We have seen the negative effects of seemingly small medical mistakes, such as misread test results, destroy the health, emotional well-being, and financial security of patients and their families. We have also filed wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of families who have lost loved ones because of a medical mistake. If you or someone in your family is included in the disturbing statistics surrounding medical error, please get in touch with our offices for a free evaluation of your case. Once we establish that you have a viable case, we will fight vigorously to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve for the trauma you have suffered and its long-term effects. Because our personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, you won’t have to pay any attorneys’ fees at all until we win your case.
Types of Possible Misreadings of Medical Test Results
Patients undergo hundreds of medical tests for a broad range of reasons. Such tests may be used for diagnosis, to assess the advancement of a disease process, to measure the degree of healing that has taken place, or to evaluate the effect of ongoing treatment. Tests on blood, urine, and saliva, as well as EKGs, X-rays, CT and MRI scans, are used to determine:
- Blood cell counts
- Protein and hormone levels
- Sedimentation rate,
- Presence of diseases like influenza, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and STDs
- Presence of drugs or alcohol in the body
- Kidney, liver, thyroid, and heart function
- Internal inflammation, e.g. pancreatitis
- Cardiovascular disease
- Ligament tears
It is easy to see how an error in the reading of a medical test can lead to a misdiagnosis, resulting in improper treatment, ranging from an overdose or underdose of medication to a delayed or unneeded painful or debilitating treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy. There have even been cases in which patients have had unnecessary amputations or have died on the table during unneeded surgeries. While such horrific mistakes are fortunately rare, when you suffer long-term harm because of a healthcare professional in whom you have placed your trust misreads a medical test, you require more than an apology. That’s where Nagel Rice comes in. Our supremely capable personal injury attorneys will fight vigorously to get you the compensation, both economic and non-economic, that you are owed for your suffering and deprivation.
New Jersey’s “Affidavit of Merit”
Within 60 days of the defendant’s response to the filing of a lawsuit, the plaintiff must give the healthcare provider an “affidavit of merit.” In this document an “appropriate [sic] licensed person” (e.g. a doctor in the same field as the defendant) must declare under oath that there is “a reasonable probability that the care, skill or knowledge exercised or exhibited in the treatment, practice or work that is the subject of the complaint, fell outside acceptable professional or occupational standards or treatment practices.” In other words, that the misreading of a blood or urine test, or the reported results of an X-ray, CT or MRI scan, went beyond the realm of a reasonable mistake. When you engage the services of Nagel Rice, we will take care of all the details involved in filing an Affidavit of Merit.
Types of Damages Paid to Victims of Misread Test Results
There are several varieties of damages you may be able to receive as a result of your healthcare professional’s mistake:
Economic damages will reimburse you for medical expenses, lost wages (present and future), ongoing disability and healthcare costs, and property damage. Non-economic damages will, to the extent possible, compensate you for physical pain, emotional anguish, ongoing disability and/or disfigurement, and loss of quality of life, including loss of consortium (the inability to remain as connected to intimates as previously). According to New Jersey law, there are no caps to either of these amounts.
Another type of non-economic damages, however, known as punitive damages, does have a cut-off amount in New Jersey. Designed to punish malicious or extremely reckless behavior, the cap on punitive damages in New Jersey is $350,000 or five times the compensatory damages received, whichever is more. In the realm of medical malpractice, punitive damages are only awarded 5 percent of the time since, though it does sometimes happen, it is rare for a healthcare professional to act with intentional malice or wild recklessness.
You may be entitled to punitive damages as well as compensatory ones if your doctor, nurse, physician assistant or nurse practitioner was impaired by drugs or alcohol, guilty of criminal behavior, or trying to cover an earlier mistake. If an obstetrician misreads or misinterprets a test that results in a “wrongful birth” of an infant so damaged that its life will be a misery for both the child and its family, and/or that it will die very soon, the doctor who made the mistake may be sued for punitive damages. Such damages are meant to punish the physician and to warn all other doctors in the field to be extremely careful going forward.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in New Jersey
It is always best to take action as quickly as possible in a medical malpractice case, not only because of the 2-year statute of limitations for filing a claim, but because it is important to collect medical records, other written materials, and witness statements while they are fresh. It should be remembered, however, that, while the statute of limitations usually dates from the time the harm was inflicted, in some cases it is extended to 2 years from the date on which you discovered, or could reasonably have been expected to discover, that you suffered harm as a result of medical malpractice.
How Nagel Rice LLP Can Help
We are well aware of how disastrous the effects of misread test results in a medical setting can be. If you have suffered delayed or improper treatment as a result of such an error, our skilled attorneys will work hard to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. We are compassionate, diligent, and know what we’re doing. Our successful verdict and settlement rates are high — we once obtained a $3.5 Million jury verdict in a medical malpractice case involving failure to diagnose. When you put yourself in our hands, you will be working with dedicated, passionate personal injury attorneys. Call us or contact us by filling out one of the contact forms on our website.