What can I do if I was not advised by doctor against flying a long haul flight before my surgery and I suffered complications as a result?

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What can I do if I was not advised by doctor against flying a long haul flight before my surgery and I suffered complications as a result?

Just 4 days before my surgery, I had an 23 hour flight; I developed DVT and PE few hours after surgery.

Asked on August 2, 2014 under Malpractice Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The first issue is, did going on a long-haul flight 4 days before surgery cause the DVT and PE? You have to be able to show, such as with medical testimony, that there is a causal link; if you can't show that the flight caused these conditions, then there would be no liability, and the fact that you developed them after the flight does not, by itself, prove causality.

The second issue is, was the doctor negligent or unreasonably careless, in not advising you to not fly? This question itself has components:

1) Did you tell the doctor you were about to take a long haul flight? It's not normal or common for people to do that at any given moment; therefore, unless you told your doctor you were about to fly, he/she would have no reason to warn you against it. In the absence of knowledge that you'd be flying, the doctor would not be liable.

2) Even if the doctor knew you were going on the long-haul flight, he/she would only be negligent if standard medical care at that time, based on the state of  medical knowledge at that time, would be to warn people to not go on long-haul flights shortly before surgery. But if the average reasoanble doctor would have no reason to believe that flying posed any special risk under those circumstances, there would be no liability for not warning you to not fly.

Assuming you get over those two hurdles, the third issue is, whether it would be worthwhile suing. Medical malpractice suits can be very expensive; as alluded to above, you need expert medical testimony. Since you can only recover for medical bills, lost wages, and *possibly* pain and suffering for the DVT and PE (the conditions you contend were caused  by the flight), it's not impossible that you could spend as much or more on the lawsuit than you'd recover.

If you believe that there's a reasonable chance all the answers to the questions above would be favorable to you, then you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney to discuss the situation in greater detail.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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