understanding intricacies of state law can help malpractice cases

When a hospital makes a mistake that results in injury to a patient, the hospital is not always willing to offer full and fair compensation. Some people in Pittsburgh may have experienced this before. If a patient deserves more than what a hospital is willing to offer in a settlement, the case may go to trial. What can be very helpful in this situation, as one case in another state shows, is having a thorough understanding of Pennsylvania’s medical malpractice laws.

In 2001, a 9-year-old boy from Washington had an MRI after experiencing serious symptoms, including double vision, dizziness and headaches. After reviewing the results of the boy’s MRI, however, his doctor found nothing wrong. The patient is now suing that doctor and the medical facility for failing to detect a serious condition.

Eight years after the first MRI, the boy had a second MRI done by a different doctor. The results of that test showed that his brain tissue was extending out into his spinal cord.

Initially, the lawsuit was dismissed because the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases had expired. Because he understood the intricacies of the state law, however, the man appealed. Minors do not have to adhere to the same statute of limitation laws, according to Washington’s medical malpractice laws. The court sided with him, allowing the case to move forward.

Although this case is not happening in Pennsylvania, it provides a clear example of how important it is to have a complete understanding of how state medical malpractice laws apply to a specific case. Had the man in this case been unaware of that portion of the law, he may not have been given the opportunity to argue his case.

Source: Tri-City Herald, “State Supreme Court allows medical malpractice lawsuit to proceed,” Jan. 16, 2014

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