Many people may think that having a pre-existing condition might mean that you can’t file a malpractice lawsuit if a doctor makes a mistake. Given the number of news stories and opinion pieces in the media over the past few years about pre-existing conditions and insurance companies, that’s not surprising. It is, however, a common misconception.
Your Condition Led You to Seek Medical Care
In most cases, you wouldn’t be under a doctor’s care if you didn’t have some pre-existing condition. Except in the case of a routine physical examination, there’s usually some reason behind going to the doctor in the first place.
What this means is that nearly everyone receiving medical care has a pre-existing condition. If that precluded patients from filing a lawsuit over a doctor’s mistake, there would be no way to file a malpractice claim at all—even if the doctor was clearly negligent.
Your Condition Didn’t Cause the Mistake
Causation is a key element in any personal injury lawsuit. You may have a malpractice case if a doctor’s mistake caused you to be injured, sickened, or fail to recover from a treatable condition. The fact that you had some pre-existing condition is not what caused the physician to make an error.
In most cases, a patient will be injured or ill, and then seek medical care. If the doctor makes some preventable error during his or her care of the patient, the doctor can be held accountable for the mistake.
One cannot argue that the doctor would not have made the error if the patient hadn’t had some pre-existing condition. While it’s true the physician would not have made a mistake if the patient hadn’t sought treatment, this doesn’t imply causation. A reasonably competent doctor is expected to treat the patient’s pre-existing condition without error.
If you suspect a doctor made an error in your treatment, you should consult with an attorney. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you determine your best course of action if you’ve been harmed by a doctor‘s or hospital’s negligence.