San Francisco Medical Malpractice: MICRA limits recoveries

March 2, 2012
By Callaway & Wolf on March 2, 2012 8:52 AM |

With a strained healthcare system and dwindling resources in this tough economy, medical malpractice may actually be a growing health hazard for San Francisco residents. Our Bay Area malpractice lawyers have helped many local residents who have received inadequate medical care. We understand how frightening and emotionally-trying it can be to learn that a doctor or nurse has actually made your health situation worse. Medical malpractice can take many forms, often including a failure to diagnosis, misdiagnosis, surgical error, nursing care negligence, or prescription error. Each form can have life and death consequences for those involved.

For example, a doctor's failure to diagnosis a serious or life-threatening illness can leave you with a false sense of security and health. According to an article about a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer from Legal News, case, last month a jury awarded a $15 million verdict to a woman whose doctor failed to diagnose a lump in her breast as cancer. (In California, that $15 million would be reduced to $250,000, pursuant to the M.I.C.R.A. law.) The missed diagnosis allowed the disease to spread throughout the woman's body and metastasize to her bones. The woman, a 40-year-old mother of three, found a lump during a self-breast exam in 2002. At the time, the lump was only about the size of a marble, but she immediately made an appointment with a doctor working at the Carol Baldwin Breast Cancer Center. stethascope.jpg

Although the doctor ordered a mammography for the woman, he failed to order any additional tests. Instead, he relied only on the mammogram and told the woman that the lump was a clogged milk duct. In younger women, relying only on mammogram results can be particularly dangerous because the radiation of a mammogram can more easily pass through a mass and cancer, potentially leading to a misdiagnosis. The woman in this case left the center mistakenly believing she was perfectly healthy.

However, approximately 16 months later, the woman returned, complaining that the lump had grown. During the time between the original misdiagnosis and her return to the doctor, the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. The woman had to undergo a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but the cancer later spread into her bloodstream and metastasized to her bones. Due to the large gap between her misdiagnosis and eventual treatment, the woman's prognosis is now "uncertain." The woman hired a medical malpractice attorney to help hold the doctor accountable for the diagnostic error.

Medical malpractice cases are often challenging and complicated, because the issues involved include discussions about medical procedures and best practices which are not common knowledge. Patients rightly rely on the decisions made by their medical professionals and often lack the ability to know for sure whether they received care below a reasonable level. The uncertainty about the process often prevents those hurt in this way from coming forward and demanding accountability. For that reason, it is always advisable to have assistance from those who are familiar with these situations and can explain how the law might apply in your case.

At Callaway & Wolf, we know that nothing is more important than your health. Our San Francisco medical malpractice lawyers have many years of experience handling malpractice injury cases. For an overview on how malpractice cases are handled by attorneys, please visit our website, or contact our office at 415-541-0300.

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