Whether you aren’t feeling well or you’re just in for a regular check-up with your doctor, you have certain rights and your doctor has certain responsibilities regarding your care, especially if your condition is outside the scope of his or her normal practice area. If you need to see a qualified specialist but your doctor fails to refer you to an appropriate provider, you may be able to make a medical malpractice claim and receive compensation for the harm you suffer as a result.
There Is a Duty to Refer Patients for Appropriate Care
When you engage in a doctor-patient relationship with your physician, your doctor assumes a duty of care for your health and well-being. This duty lasts either until you are healthy again, or until your relationship ends.
If your condition is something that your doctor cannot treat—because of lack of training or unfamiliarity—it’s part of the doctor’s duty to help connect you with someone who can do so. A doctor who fails to refer a patient to a specialist may be denying the patient timely, effective care, which can result in serious harm or even death if the condition is treated improperly—or not treated at all, in some cases.
Some of the risks of a failure to refer to a specialist may include the following:
- A delay or failure in the diagnosis of a potentially harmful or lethal condition.
- Misdiagnosis or being treated for the wrong condition.
- Improper treatment, including the wrong medication or unnecessary procedures.
- The illness or condition getting much worse than it would have under a specialist’s care.
Your doctor’s duty of care does not end with a referral, either. He or she must follow up with the care provided by the specialist and ensure that you are being properly treated for your condition. A failure to do so may still result in legal liability for the patient’s injuries.
Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Case in Texas
If you’ve been injured by medical malpractice due to a failure to refer error in Texas, you may be able to file a lawsuit and recover money for the financial damages that resulted from your condition. You may be able to receive compensation for economic damages, including your hospital bills, further corrective or repeated care, treatments, or surgeries, lost wages due to time away from work, and even the loss of future earning capacity.
You may also be eligible for compensation for “non-economic” damages, including your pain and suffering, though Texas places strict caps on this type of award of $250,000 per doctor or institution, up to a maximum of $500,000.
To prove your case, there are four basic elements that you must be able to show in a court of law:
- Duty of care. You must have had a doctor-patient relationship with the physician.
- Breach of duty. The doctor must have failed in his or her duty to care for you appropriately.
- Causation. The breach of duty must have caused your injury.
- Damages. You must be able to demonstrate that the injury caused you a loss.
In the state of Texas, you have up to two years from the date of injury to pursue a medical malpractice case before the statute of limitation expires. However, it’s important to note that medical malpractice cases can be long and complex to litigate, so it’s important that those who have been injured begin the process as soon as possible. A personal injury attorney with experience handling complex medical malpractice cases like yours will be able to help you determine what your legal options are and how to proceed.
Legal Help for Medical Malpractice
If you believe you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. Our professional and experienced legal team is dedicated to seeking justice for those who have been hurt by negligence, and we want to help you recover from your injuries. To get the help you deserve, contact us by phone, send an email with our contact form, or click the live chat box on this page and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with us right now.