Can a lawsuit be filed regarding a misdiagnosis?
Question Details: I went into the emergency room at my local hospital due to some itching in my private area. About 2 weeks prior, I went into the emergency room and I was prescribed antibiotics and I was told that I was positive for chlamydia trichomoniasis. After receiving my prescription, I notified the nurse that yesterday antibiotics would cause me a yeast infection. However, she told me that the antibiotics would take care of that as well. Well, the antibiotics did not take care of the yeast infection. It itched and became irritated, which lead up to me going back into the emergency room. The doctor then looked at me at said that it was her 4th time seeing me that month. She told me that I had genital herpes to which the nurse responded that it didn't appear to be herpes to her. She then stated that it was genital warts and diagnosed me with such. She never tested me for anything and when asked by the nurse if she was still going to test me. She blatantly said no and that I needed to go to the health department. She then preceded to ask me if I were walking the streets, to which I answered no. She then followed by asking me if I was getting paid for it. She told me that someone's playing games. She also stated, "If I were a young black single female, a man wouldn't be able to get near me with nothing less than a raincoat". All of this was said while my boyfriend was present in the room. She prescribed me different medications which I refused to pay for until I knew for a fact that I had anything going on with myself. Long story short, I've been to the doctor on 2 separate occasions which I learned that warts are not present and I never believed they were to begin with. She never conducted an exam. I'm disgusted at the way in which she handled me and her attempt to belittle me. What can be done?
A misdiagnosis can be malpractice, if it was negligent or unreasonably careless--that is, a reasonable medical professional would not have come to that diagnosis. However, you can only sue for the monetary (e.g. additional medical costs) and physical (e.g. disability or life impairment) caused by the malpractice; there is no compensation for being "disgusted" or "belittled." Also, malpractice cases can be very expensive: even if you were to not have an attorney but rather represent yourself "pro se" (not recommended), you MUST hire a medical expert (e.g. a doctor) to testify--the courts will not take a layperson's (non-doctor's) testimony about whether something was or was not reasonable for a doctor to do, or about the effects of an alleged misdiagnosis, since the layperson lacks the knowledge, education, and training to comment intelligently and knowledgeably. Hiring such a medical expert witness can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars--and if you do hire a lawyer, that's thousands more. If you are mostly suing for being disgusted or belittled, and not for large medical costs or significant and long-lasting harm caused by the misdiagnosis, you will spend more on the lawsuit than you get back.