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When Doctors Don’t Listen, They Miss the Facts

When Doctors Don’t Listen, They Miss the Facts

You may have seen the explosive viral video showing a sick and fed-up female patient being yelled at by a Gainesville doctor. The patient, a woman named Jessica Stipe, had her daughter film the emotional one-minute encounter and posted it to her Facebook page in order to expose what many of us have experienced: an impatient and rude doctor. In the video, doctor Peter Gallogly is seen raising his voice and telling Ms. Stipe to “get the hell out” of his clinic after she complains of waiting for over an hour, and asks for her money back so she can go home and get back to bed. Although Mr. Gallogly’s rudeness cannot be classified as legal misconduct, it does bring about an important question: when does mistreatment turn into malpractice?

Many doctors have a bad reputation for their cold and unpleasant bedside manner. After all, they deal with hundreds of people every day and can’t allow themselves to become personally attached to each and every one. However, there are circumstances in which doctors belittle, ignore, and mistreat people that lead to severe misdiagnoses and medical failures. Under the pressure to perform faster and fit as many patients as possible into an already-hectic schedule, some doctors have completely lost the art of listening.

Doctors tend to think they know best, and they worry that if they allow a patient to speak without interruption, they won’t get to the bottom of the problem. A famous study by Beckman and Frankel shows that “doctors interrupt or redirect patients within the first 30 seconds after they begin speaking” and in two replica studies, the average time of interruption was 18 and 12 seconds, respectively.

If you think doctors not listening to patients is bad news, you’re absolutely right. There is an epidemic of bad diagnoses in America right now, where 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed each year. That’s 1 out of 20 medical patients leaving a doctor/hospital with a misdiagnosis, a truly shocking and staggering number for modern medicine. In half of those cases “the misdiagnosis has the potential to result in severe harm,” the researchers say. When doctors don’t listen and rush through patient exams, it can end in senseless tragedy.

Unfortunately, such was the case with Lavern Wilkinson, a 41-year-old Brooklyn mother who died from a treatable form of lung cancer that went undiagnosed for more than two years. According to NY Daily News, “Wilkinson arrived at the KCH emergency room with chest pain on Feb. 2, 2010, and doctors ordered up an EKG and a chest X-ray… A radiologist spotted a suspicious two-centimeter mass in her right lung, but Wilkinson was never given the results. In May, 2012, Wilkinson returned to the same ER with a chronic cough. A chest X-ray found the cancer had spread to both lungs, her liver, brain and spine. The disease was now terminal.”

Unfortunately, not only was Wilkinson misdiagnosed, she was unable to file suit against the hospital due to the 15-month statute of limitations. This led to New York passing Lavern’s Law, which gives victims of cancer misdiagnoses more time to file a lawsuit against the negligent doctor or hospital.

Does this mean that you have to interrupt your doctor while he is interrupting you in order to get your whole medical history across and not be misdiagnosed? No, that’s probably not the smartest way to go about it. But you should communicate properly with your doctor, and that means explaining your history in a chronological manner as well as sharing relevant family history, such as a grandmother with cancer or a father with heart disease. But, ultimately it falls on your doctor to take your complaints seriously and ask the right questions.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is defined as when a medical provider violates his or her standard of care, which then results in injury to a patient. The “standard of care” is the generally accepted method of care a similar doctor would administer to a similar patient with the same condition. This standard of care varies depending on numerous factors, including the patient’s age and his/her specific ailment.

What Is a “Statute of Limitations”?

Like all states, New York has a specific deadline for filing medical malpractice lawsuits. In New York, the statute is within two years and six months of the alleged malpractice. Lavern’s Law extends this deadline to two years and six months after the discovery of the malpractice in cases of cancer misdiagnosis, not the actual date it was committed. When it comes to minor children, the statute of limitations does not begin running until the child’s eighteenth birthday.

Are There Limits on Damages in New York?

While some states have limits on the amount of damages that can be awarded to a successful medical malpractice claimant, New York does not. There are three main types of damages available in New York medical malpractice cases:

  1. Compensatory damages: These damages compensate a victim of medical malpractice for such things as medical costs and loss of wages due to time off from work.
  2. Non-economic damages: These compensate a patient for such things as pain and suffering.
  3. Punitive damages: These damages are meant to “punish” the guilty party, and are rarer. In order to get punitive damages, one must show that the healthcare provider acted recklessly on purpose.

Money can’t bring back your health, but it can help makes things easier after a life-changing injury. Victims can face years of medical bills, no employment, and financial struggles. If you or a loved one has experienced medical malpractice in New York, please contact The Case Handler team at 929-223-4195 for a free case evaluation.

 

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