If the emergency room did not give me an X-ray but gave me a CAT scan instead and did not see my broken jaw, can I sue them?

UPDATED: Jul 17, 2015

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If the emergency room did not give me an X-ray but gave me a CAT scan instead and did not see my broken jaw, can I sue them?

Asked on July 17, 2015 under Malpractice Law, Delaware


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

First, this would only be malpractice if a reasonable medical care provider, based on your reported and observable symptoms, would have X-rayed instead and would have detected the broken jaw. If based on what they knew at the time, the emergency room acted reasonably, there would be no malpractice.

Second, even if there is malpractice, you can only sue for the *additional* medical costs caused by their failure to diagnose you right away, and for pain and suffering IF the failure to diagnose properly (not the injury itself; specifically the failure to spot the broken jaw) caused you significant life impairment or disability lasting weeks, months, or longer. That is because you can only recover compensation for the effects of the failure to see the broken jaw. 

Meanwhile, a malpractice suit is a very expensive lawsuit to bring, because you need a medical expert to examine you, create a report, and testify, and medial experts do not work cheap. Depending on the effect of the failure to disagnose, you could spend more on the lawsuit than you'd get back.

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