Legal claim for failing to diagnose a sexually transmitted disease?

by Anonymous
(Massachusetts)

I'm wondering if I can sue my school health services if they refused to tell me that I had a form of sexually transmitted disease. I had the STD for a couple of months without knowing. I had gone to the school health office but they didn't contact me when the results came, so I had no way of knowing whether I was negative or positive.

However a couple of months later, I had symptoms and I went to my primary care doctor's office. I told them about my symptoms and I was tested for any STDs. It turns out that I had one.

My question is, can I sue for emotional stress because I'm scared about this incident and the school health office was negligent in not telling me? What if I had a serious illness and they failed to see it? I could be spreading things unknowingly and maybe other people are victims as well. Can I pursue any legal claims? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Legal claim for failing to diagnose a sexually transmitted disease?":

Anonymous (Massachusetts):

According to the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services, when it comes to the issue of notifying persons(s) who have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD), there are no laws in Massachusetts that mandate physicians to act on a sense of duty to warn.

According to the American Journal of Medicine, each year up to 15 percent of patients suffer needlessly as a result of wrong diagnoses, which include misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses.

A wrong diagnosis is considered medical malpractice if the doctor's actions "deviated from the medical standard of care" of similarly trained doctors. And, if as a result of the misdiagnosis (or failure to diagnose), the patient suffers needlessly and has real damages.

Fortunately for you, it appears you haven't suffered any injuries or related illness as a result of a failure to diagnose. In Massachusetts, emotional distress resulting from a failure to notify a patient he or she has contracted an STD is not sufficient grounds to support a legitimate claim for medical malpractice.

Here's more about liability in medical malpractice cases.

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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