Malpractice And Pre-Existing Conditions: When Is Your Doctor Responsible For Aggravating An Injury Or Condition?

Home / Medical Malpractice / Malpractice And Pre-Existing Conditions: When Is Your Doctor Responsible For Aggravating An Injury Or Condition?

doctor with pillsMillions of Americans go through life with a pre-existing condition. Whether it’s a back injury that won’t heal, a condition you’ve had since birth, or a chronic illness that affects which medications you can take, a pre-existing condition can make you more vulnerable to being injured again by someone else’s negligence, including your doctor.

When your doctor commits malpractice, he or she is always liable for your injuries that occurred as a result of that malpractice. It doesn’t matter if a person’s pre-existing condition made the malpractice injury worse—if a doctor was negligent, he or she is responsible for all of the consequences of that negligence, including the aggravation of your injury.

For example, suppose a patient was injured in a car accident weeks earlier, and had suffered internal bruising and a broken arm. If that same patient goes to see a different doctor to have her tonsils taken out, but is dropped off an operating table during surgery, the doctor who was performing the tonsillectomy will be responsible for any new or aggravated injuries caused by the fall, even if the patient wouldn’t have been injured without the pre-existing conditions.

When your doctor did not commit an act which would normally be considered malpractice, but those actions still harmed you, the issue gets trickier. If your doctor did not know about your condition, and the actions wouldn’t normally be medical negligence, it may be harder to prove your case. For example, giving a patient penicillin is not normally negligence, unless the patient is allergic to penicillin. The pre-existing allergy, and the reaction the medication caused, may or may not be negligence, depending on the circumstances. If the allergy was in the chart, or the patient told the doctor about the allergy, there is likely negligence. If the patient forgot about the allergy, had never been diagnosed with the allergy, or for some reason lied to the doctor about the allergy, the patient may not be able to recover at all.

In general, if your doctor knew or should have known that you had a pre-existing condition, and did something to worsen or aggravate your condition, you likely have a claim for malpractice. Proving the issue of medical malpractice, especially with a pre-existing condition, can be a complicated process, and requires someone who understands both the law and the medicine.

At the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., our dedicated medical and legal staff will evaluate your injury and your medical case history, and can help you protect your rights. Bradley I. Kramer is both a medical doctor and an attorney, and has the unique expertise you need on your side to fight back after a doctor’s negligence.

For a free consultation, contact us by calling (310) 289-2600 and speak with an experienced Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney today.

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