Medical malpractice cases often involve negligent actions on the part of doctors, hospital staff, and other medical providers that directly result in injuries to patients. Performing the wrong type of surgery, providing incorrect medications or at wrong amounts, and making an incorrect diagnosis are all examples of actions taken directly by a provider, which are common grounds for medical malpractice claims.
Unfortunately, failing to act in the face of certain types of medical conditions can also put a patient’s health and safety at risk. A recent Oregon Supreme Court case has now paved the way for doctors to be held accountable for not ordering the appropriate tests, procedures, or medications a patient requires, and the lost opportunities for recovery they suffer as the result.
Oregon Supreme Court Rules on “Loss of Chance”
A May 2017 report in The Bulletin highlights the case of a Portland man who went to the Hood River emergency room after suffering symptoms of a stroke. The doctor responsible for his treatment discharged him without ordering an MRI or prescribing drugs to help eliminate and prevent blood clotting, a standard practice for stroke patients. When he followed up with his regular doctor, who did order the MRI, it was discovered that he had indeed suffered a stroke and in the time since his E.R. visit, had suffered brain damage as a result.
He later filed a medical malpractice lawsuit based on the fact that by failing to order the appropriate testing or to provide medication, the doctor had robbed him of his chance at making a better recovery. Referred to as ‘loss of chance’ doctrine, the report states that while it has not been previously applicable in Oregon, at least 41 other states have ruled on it in favor of the patient.
After the man’s lawsuit was denied, his attorneys filed an appeal with the Oregon Supreme Court. In its ruling on Smith v. Providence Health & Services, the justices determined that based on the facts in the case, the medical provider’s negligence did result in the loss of the chance for recovery, and ruled in the patient’s favor.
What The New Qualifications Mean for Patients
In the Hood River case, getting the MRI and the appropriate drugs proved successful for one out of every three stroke patients. When you are suffering from any type of potentially debilitating or life-threatening condition, even the slightest odds that a treatment or procedure will work is worth pursuing.
The Oregon ruling benefits patients by not only holding doctors accountable for their mistakes and errors, but by requiring them to be more diligent in performing their duties. This translates into the following:
- Taking the time necessary to thoroughly review a patient’s symptoms, medical records, and past health issues;
- Ordering the appropriate testing to diagnose or rule out other conditions;
- Pursuing various courses of treatment to find one that works;
- Prescribing the appropriate medications and monitoring the patient’s response.
If you have been the victim of a medical error or mistake, contact our medical malpractice attorney immediately. At the Johnston Law Firm, we thoroughly review each case, and can advise you on your rights to compensation. Call or contact us online today to request a free consultation in our Portland office.