Visitor Question

Pneumothorax in my lung…

Submitted By: Pat (Charleston, SC, USA)

I had a port a cath implanted by a surgeon as an outpatient. I was released by the doctor and told that everything was fine.

Later that night I started experiencing heart palpatations and a thumping in my chest. I called the doctor and was told to get a chest x-ray. The x-ray showed a pneumothorax in the lung.

The doctor then ordered an EKG and an echo cardiogram.

The echo showed no damage to the heart so the doctor ordered another chest x-ray which resulted in the need to insert a chest tube. I was released from the hospital in severe pain. I returned for yet another chest x-ray the following morning.

The doctor then removed the chest tube and said he didn’t need to see me again.

I experienced much pain and suffering and also had to lose many days from work.

My insurance company will be billed for the mistake of the surgeon which resulted in a total of 5 x-rays, 2 EKGs and 1 echo cardiogram. Do I have grounds for a malpractice suit to recoup my loss of wages and pain and suffering? Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Pat,

Your medical issues are complex. Whether or not you have a medical malpractice claim will depend on whether the treatment your primary physician afforded you fell beneath the “standard of care in the medical community.”

The medical standard of care is the determining factor in whether a doctor may have committed malpractice. This means if other doctors in your local geographic area would have made the same diagnosis under the same circumstances, them medical malpractice was probably not committed.

In the alternative, if your doctor’s actions “deviated downward from the medical standard of care in the medical community,” then medical malpractice could have been committed.

Making your case will take expert analysis and medical testimony. A challenge you may run into is finding other doctors in the community who will agree to testify against your doctor. An experienced malpractice attorney will have a list of expert witnesses she has used before. There are some doctors who are “hired guns” and travel around the country offering their expert testimony in legal cases.

Expert testimony is very expensive. So are the other costs related to the pursuit of a medical malpractice claim. You can’t handle a med mal claim on your own. Successful attorneys have the financial resources required to pursue these cases. Your attorney will advance all the costs for you. Costs can include hiring a court reporter for depositions, the costs of subpoenas, and much more.

Fortunately, as a client you won’t have to advance any of those costs. Medical malpractice attorneys accept cases on a contingency basis. If your attorney eventually settles your case, or wins it at trial, she will take a percentage of the amount plus her costs. If she loses, you owe nothing.

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

Best of luck,

Published: October 20, 2013

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