The only thing that could make a kidney tumor diagnosis more difficult to handle is the knowledge that it should have been identified two years earlier. This was one North Carolina man’s experience. Though he was able to have the tumor removed, medical records revealed that his doctor could have made the diagnosis years earlier, but failed to do so.
Interestingly enough, the man is a retired ultrasound technician who could have immediately made the tumor diagnosis by looking at the ultrasound from years earlier. In other words, there is little excuse for his doctor’s failure to diagnose the kidney tumor. Yet relatively new North Carolina medical malpractice laws may leave this man with little to no legal recourse.
Studies show that preventable medical mistakes severely injure or kill more people in North Carolina than car accidents and murders combined. Despite these startling statistics, new laws may make it more difficult for patients or their families to pursue justice in light of needless medical negligence.
The law, known as Senate Bill 33, established numerous provisions that prevent many medical malpractice suits from moving forward. Additionally, the law has put a limit on non-economic damages stemming from medical negligence. Now, people can receive no more than $500,000 for chronic pain and suffering that resulted from a preventable medical error.
While supporters of the law argue that the reform reduces the cost of health care costs, opponents suggest that the law only limits patient’s rights.
The reality is that thousands of North Carolina residents unnecessarily suffer as the result of a medical mistake, and many of those individuals may have the ability to pursue justice for the trouble they’ve encountered. Knowing the dynamics of North Carolina’s malpractice laws, it becomes increasingly important for individuals affected by a doctor’s error to find a strong advocate for their cause. By choosing to hold negligent medical professionals accountable, individuals may be taking an important step forward for the rights of patients throughout our state.
Source: WSOC-TV News, “New NC law makes it harder for patients to sue for malpractice,” Peter Daut, July 12, 2012