Whether it is a triage nurse in the emergency room, a nurse practitioner at your family practice, a physician’s assistant, or a medical doctor, it is critical for whomever is providing you with medical care to get an accurate idea of what ailments you may have and what tests to run confirm what is going on with you. This is when medical care providers will make an initial “differential diagnosis” – where they will come up with a list of conditions that share symptoms which you complain of and start ruling the most serious, life-threatening conditions out.
What happens if complaints are missed or ignored by doctors or nurses?
If certain complaints are missed it can result in your actual issue or illness not being considered, and tests not being ordered that could confirm you have a certain issue or illness so it can be treated. Another problem is any subsequent treater may never become aware of these serious complaints because they will not be listed in your medical records when they take over your care. And they could focus on those complaints that are listed in those records instead.
Still, even if you are adamant that certain complaints, symptoms, or issues were told to your treating medical care provider, you could be facing an uphill battle to prove this. A jury or other eventual fact finder may be more apt to believe that if you made the complaints then they would be in your medical records. Likewise a medical expert – whose support is necessary to bring a medical malpractice case in Pennsylvania and New Jersey – will likely have a difficult time backing a claim that your complaints were not attended to when they are not listed in the records. At the very least then, besides your own testimony, you will need some type of independent source to help prove the issues and complaints you claim were ignored were made to your medical care providers.
If they do take my complaints does it mean that I can’t bring a claim against the doctor or nurse?
Just because a medical care provider takes down all of your complaints does not rule out a claim for medical malpractice though. The medical care provider may still downplay certain critical complaints that other doctors or nurses in similar circumstances would focus on. Downplaying critical complaints or issues and focusing on less serious ones can also result in your actual issue or illness not being considered, and tests not being ordered that could confirm you have that issue or illness so it can be treated.
In this scenario, you will have the benefit of hard evidence that your complaints were made because they will be listed in the medical records.
Even if certain complaints or issues you raised to a medical care provider were missed or downplayed, this does not automatically mean you have a case. You still have to prove what is called “causation.” This means you must show that had your medical care provider listened to your complaints or focused on the correct ones, you or your loved one would have received the correct treatment, and you or your loved one would have avoided the harm that resulted because your complaints were ignored. This can be proven through your medical records and by medical experts who specialize in the field of medicine for which you were treating.
Are complaints limited to just the doctors, nurses, and staff?
Claims for missed complaints or other serious medical issues do not stop with the nurses or doctors treating you. There could also be problems with the hospital, nursing home, or medical practice where you are treating – such as an overworked medical staff due to understaffing making it more likely your complaints will be missed or ignored. In such cases you could have a direct claim against the hospital or nursing home where you or your loved ones were being treated.
The Thistle Law Firm is experienced in handling cases for missed or downplayed patient complaints and subsequent medical neglect. If you believe you or your loved one suffered harm because a doctor or nurse did not listen to, take down, or downplayed your complaints the attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call and discuss your legal options at 215-525-6824.