Can I get a doctor to cover the expenses of a procedure he previously botched?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I get a doctor to cover the expenses of a procedure he previously botched?

I hit a lightbulb on accident and had to get stitches. At the office while getting them I told the Dr that I think there is still glass in my finger but he disagreed and stitched me up. My finger still hurt periodically after until it got so bad I went and got an X-ray and sure enough there is still a little bit of glass in there. I need to

go to a hand surgeon and get it removed. Can I have the first doctor pay for this second procedure?

Asked on August 30, 2016 under Malpractice Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Legally, you most likely can: leaving glass in the wound was most likely negligent, or unreasonably careless, since a careful doctor would have checked and made sure all the glass was gone. Medical negligence is malpractice, and malpractice makes a doctor liable, or financially responsible, for any later or additional medical care required due to the malpractice.
However, it is questionable whether it is worthwhile suing the doctor--the only way to get the money, if he won't voluntarily pay for the second procedure. If you sue for malpractice in a case like this, all you can get (assuming that there is no lasting significant injury to your finger, as we hope) is the out-of-pocket, or not paid by insurance, additional medical costs. But to bring a malpractice case, you *must* have a medical expert, like another doctor, testify as to the appropriate standard of medical care, what the malpractice doctor should have done, and how what he did was malpractice. Medical experts can be very expensive--easily over a $1,000, possibly several thousand. It is very likely that unless you have unexpectedly large medical costs, that you would spend more on the lawsuit than you would get back (you have to pay your own expert costs; you can't get it back from the other side).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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