Updated August 2, 2021
A preexisting condition can really be any illness or even an injury that can be a complicating factor to someone’s health and potentially even a complication to recovery from a medical procedure.
With a potential medical malpractice claim, very often, a prospective client and patient will begin with some preexisting injury or condition. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be seeking medical care.
The short answer is no, preexisting conditions or even injuries that bring about the medical care are not in and of themselves defeating to a potential medical malpractice claim.
A couple of examples from current cases that we’re working on: A young man has a heart rhythm condition called atrial fibrillation, and he is going to undergo a surgery to try to correct that. The surgery doesn’t go well, and he unfortunately does not survive the surgery because of a failure to control his bleeding and respond to that in a timely fashion. The fact that he had an underlying preexisting condition of atrial fibrillation in no way defeats his potential medical malpractice claim.
A second example is one who may have an injury like another young man who had a very significant leg fracture that needed treatment in a trauma center. Unfortunately, they didn’t get him to the operating room in time sufficient to keep him from losing so much blood that he was not able to survive surgery. Again, even though these kinds of fractures are treated successfully every day. So, the fact that he had an underlying preexisting condition, which in his case was a serious femur fracture, did not prevent his family from pursuing and eventually obtaining a very fair recovery for wrongful death.
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