Should we pursue a case of possible malpractice case?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Should we pursue a case of possible malpractice case?

My mother passed away a couple of springs ago. A couple of months before that she went to the ER with complaints of chest pain and irregular heart beat, as well as foot problems caused by diabetes. They addressed the diabetes problem but failed to do and test not even EKG. She ended up passing away due to atherosclerosis. She was a smoker and had diabetes so plaque build up would be expected but it could’ve been caught. Should my family and I pursue this case?

Asked on October 22, 2018 under Malpractice Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The statute of limitations, or time within which you must file any lawsuit based on malpractice, is only two years from the time of malpractice in your state. If more than two years have gone by it is most likely too late to sue. Even if it is not too late:
1) You would have to prove with medical expert testimony that not doing certain tests (e.g. an EKG) would be considered negligent or unprofessionally careless under the circumstances--that is, that when faced with the symptoms, information, etc. your mother had or provided, any reasonable medical care provider or doctor would have done those tests. If it was, on the other hand, reasonable to not do them, there is no liability: they did nothing wrong.
2) In addition, you would have to prove by medical expert testimony that the failure to test caused or contributed in some material way to when your mother died--I.e. that had the tests been done, your mother"s life could have been prolonged. If she would have, given her health and conditions likely died the same time anyway, there is no liability, since the failure to test did not accelerAte or lead to her death.

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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