Thanks to constant advances in medicine and genetic testing, patients are now able to determine if they have certain specific diseases before that disease actually impacts their health. In theory, this sounds simple enough, however, test results aren’t always simple to interpret and if a doctor misreads the results, they may provide the patient with incorrect information which could cause irreparable harm.
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One of the many disorders that can now be tested for is Factor V Leiden. This disorder is a mutation involving one of the clotting factors in the blood which is known as Factor V and patients who are diagnosed with this condition are at higher risk of developing abnormal blood clots. While some never develop a blood clot, others suffer because of:
If the patient does develop blood clots, the condition can be managed with blood thinners.
Recently, after several family members were diagnosed with Factor V Leiden, one man requested that his doctor test him for the condition so that he could seek treatment if needed. His doctor agreed that he should be tested and did so. When the results came back, his doctor informed him that he did not have Factor V Leiden and so he didn’t need to consider taking a blood thinner.
The doctor was wrong.
The test results actually indicated that the patient did, in fact, suffer from Factor V Leiden and shortly after he was tested, he had a stroke.
Today, the patient suffers from memory loss, speech defects, and a limp for which he uses a cane. He is only 55-years-old.
The patient filed a lawsuit against his doctor, alleging that his stroke could have been prevented if the doctor had correctly interpreted the results and he had started to take blood thinners.
After a lengthy trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $852,350 for his pain and suffering and his medical expenses. However, the total award was reduced because the jury determined that the doctor was only 55% at fault and that the plaintiff himself was at least 45% responsible due to his long history of smoking, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and obesity.
Ultimately, the award was reduced to $468,792.
There are many times when, under the law, the plaintiff may be partially responsible for the harm that they have sustained. Let’s take the case above as an example. While it is true that the doctor misdiagnosed the patient, some patients can live their entire lives with Factor V Leiden and never have a dangerous blood clot.
However, patients who do not have Factor V Leiden but who are obese, smoke, or have high blood pressure have a higher risk of having a stroke because of their lifestyle.
Since medicine cannot currently prove whether or not it was the patient’s medical condition or his lifestyle which resulted in the stroke, the doctor was found to be only partially liable.
In all cases, a statute of limitations applies. In New York, the statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases can be complicated simply because it depends on several factors.
Overall, the typical time allowed to file a claim is two and a half years. However, if the medical malpractice resulted because of an ongoing treatment, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until that treatment has been concluded. If the medical malpractice involves a foreign object that has been left in the body, the patient has one year from the time they discovered the object was left behind.
Sometimes, it’s not always clear that medical malpractice occurred, which is why anyone who suspects they may have been harmed by a medical professional should contact an attorney as soon as possible. At Banville Law, we offer free consultations for the victims of medical malpractice - don’t hesitate to call us today to learn more.