Can I sue a hospital for failure to diagnose a fracture?

by Johnny
(Copper City, TX)

I discovered a man had been sleeping with my wife after taking advantage of her while she was very drunk and on anti-depressants. My wife and I were separated in different houses at the time. I saw the man at a convenience store and told him I did not want him near my wife and 2 yr old daughter.

The man was an Iraqi war vet with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was also selling drugs to my son. He had threatened to kill me three times over the phone and had called me every name in the book (after I had actually thanked him for his service overseas, even though I knew he had taken advantage of my wife).

I came to her house one night and he was inside with my little girl. I entered to see if my daughter was safe and ask him to get away from my kids. I ended up hitting him and breaking my hand. I was taken in cuffs to the ER and X-rays of my hand were taken. The doctor said he saw what "APPEARED" to be old fractures, and said no cast, splint or wrapping was needed... the hand would heal just fine.

I was then taken to jail for 2 days and not given any pain medication at all. My hand was swollen like a birthday balloon and in tremendous pain. I went to a bone and joint specialist a couple months later who x-rayed it again. He said the hand was indeed fractured and should have been put in a cast and probably required a metal plate in the bone to heal properly.

My right dominant hand is now permanently disfigured and I am a piano and guitar player, and an artist. I can only type half the speed I used to and I am trying to finish a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. My hand is in pretty much constant pain now, a year later.

Can I sue the original emergency room doctor or hospital for failure to diagnose the fractured hand, even though I hit the person? Thank you for any help.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Can I sue a hospital for failure to diagnose a fracture?":

Johnny (Copper City, Texas):

Your assault on the Vet should have nothing to do with any medical malpractice. They are two distinct and separate things. Whether you plead guilty, no contest, or go to trial, the results will not affect an action for medical malpractice against the hospital, and a case of negligence against the police department.

The only real consideration in determining medical malpractice is whether as a result of a doctor’s negligence you suffered serious injury. If you are able to prove to a “medical certainty” that the actions of the doctor and the hospital resulted in “permanent disfigurement” you may have a strong case.

The same goes for the police department. They have a duty to protect you and where possible to mitigate any injuries you suffered. It really doesn’t matter why you were in jail. What matters is that the police officer(s) knew your hand was seriously injured, and did nothing to help you, especially when your hand swelled to the size of a “birthday balloon”.

Medical Malpractice cases are very difficult cases to litigate. As a result you should really not be thinking about representing yourself. In these types of cases it’s not a matter of how smart a person is. It’s a matter of having the very specific training to successfully fight doctors and hospitals.

As a result we urge you to contact a skilled Personal Injury Attorney. Most of the good ones will not charge you any legal fee for an initial office consultation. These Attorneys will also not charge any legal fees until and unless they win their client’s case; and they don’t accept cases unless they believe they can win.

If you find a skilled Personal Injury Attorney and she accepts your case, you can be comfortable knowing there is a good chance you may win.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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Comments for Can I sue a hospital for failure to diagnose a fracture?

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suing hospital for failure to diagnose/treat fracture
by: Anonymous

Law Guy, Thank you very much for your response. I have since attained all medical records from both original Hospital ER and Bone & Joint specialist. The specialist told me point blank, along with his assistant as well, that the hand should have been cast, and he would have even considered surgery involving a metal plate to ensure the bones healed properly.

Strangely, however, I cannot get him to DOCUMENT these statements he has made, he has given all records and copies of x-ray/MRI conclusions, but he will not document that, in his opinion, the hand required a cast and possibly surgery as INITIAL treatment.

I have a feeling he knows the doctor in the Hospital ER who "treated" me. This is a small town, and they probably play golf together and he is covering his buddy's arse. I hope this does not present a problem in my case.

The specialists' records say "hand was not placed in splint", but they don't say that it should have been. These doctors are all in cahoots it seems and they take care of their own. Any feedback? Thanks - David

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