Can I sue for medical malpractice for a doctor forcibly retracting my son’s foreskin?

UPDATED: Aug 2, 2011

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Can I sue for medical malpractice for a doctor forcibly retracting my son’s foreskin?

I brought my 7 month old son to the doctor for a wellness check, and without warning or consent she forcibly retracted my uncircumcised son’s foreskin. It obviously caused him a lot of pain, he was screaming at the top of his lungs and crying. Later when I changed his diaper, there was a little bit of blood. Now his penis is swollen and red, and very sensitive. He cries and tries to pull away every time I try to wipe him. This was unnecessary and painful for him, can I file a malpractice suit against that doctor for what she did to him?

Asked on August 2, 2011 North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First of all, malpractice--literally, "bad practice," is when a doctor or other health care provider provides medical care that does not meet accepted standards. So if accepted standards during the type of check-up you son had would include what the doctor did, that would not be malpractice.

Second, you can only recover in a malpractice suit for medical costs, pain and suffering for significant injury, disfigurement, or disability, lost wages (if applicable) and other out-of-pocket costs. If your son suffered some pain and sensitivity for a few days or even a few weeks--but no significant medical costs, no permanent disability, etc.--it is highly unlikely that you could recover enough money to justify the costs of a malpractice lawsuit, which is one of the most expensive lawsuits to bring (you need medical expert witnesses, for example).

Another option, if you think this doctor's behavior inappropriate, you could report her to your state's licensing board.

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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