When you pursue treatment in a hospital, you expect a high overall standard of care and attention to your case’s details. You want your medical care providers to remain on top of things as much as possible, and you want them to provide you with the treatments you need to recover fully.
Unfortunately, medical care can sometimes feel incredibly traumatic, especially if your care provider does not offer the high standard of care you might otherwise have expected. You may find yourself struggling with immense emotional distress following medical malpractice or another error on the part of the hospital. Can you sue the hospital for that emotional distress? Our medical malpractice lawyers discuss your legal recovery options below.
Table of Contents
- Recovering Damages in Medical Malpractice Claims: What You Can Include
- When Can You Include Emotional Distress as Part of a Medical Malpractice Claim Against a Hospital?
- How to Include Compensation for Emotional Distress in a Medical Malpractice Claim
- Do You Need to File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Recovering Damages in Medical Malpractice Claims: What You Can Include
When you suffer injuries because of the negligence of a medical care provider, you have the right to recover compensation for all those damages, including the emotional distress potentially associated with that lack of care. Most medical malpractice claims will include:
Compensation for Any Increased Medical Costs
Medical malpractice often results in substantially increased medical costs related to your care. Suppose, for example, your doctor diagnosed you with and treated the wrong condition.
You may have high ongoing medical costs associated with any side effects from the initial treatment or the treatment you require to correct those side effects or any issues that went along with the incorrectly-diagnosed condition.
Furthermore, you may have severe medical costs when a physician commits an error that results in substantial side effects or other consequences. Those increased medical costs will be the foundation of most medical malpractice claims.
Payment for Any Wage Losses
Wage loss can become a serious problem after any medical malpractice event. You may have thought that you would recover relatively quickly, given the right treatment for your injury or condition. Unfortunately, a care provider’s error may have resulted in a long road to recovery, which means that you may have lost additional income during that period. In addition, you may have suffered such severe injuries due to medical malpractice that you could no longer work in your preferred industry. You might, therefore, have to claim compensation for lost earning potential associated with the medical malpractice.
Breaking Down Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering in a medical malpractice case can mean several things. First, it may mean the physical pain associated with the medical malpractice incident. Often, medical malpractice leads to substantial injury, which may cause considerable pain either during the recovery process or, in the case of severe or lifelong injuries, for the rest of the patient’s life.
Next, medical malpractice may mean immense emotional suffering.
You may suffer from the loss of independence associated with your injuries. You may notice a substantial increase in anxiety, including white coat syndrome or other anxiety associated with future medical care. You may be dealing with increased depression levels, especially if you have suffered immense losses because of the care provider’s negligent treatment.
Finally, medical malpractice can mean the loss of relationships. Often, people struggle to maintain relationships through severe illness or a long recovery. You may not have the same people around you that you would have counted on in the past. Friends may fall away. Your illness or injury may permanently change your relationship with your spouse or children.
As part of your medical malpractice claim, you have the right to include compensation for that suffering, even though it may not have a direct financial correlation. As a result, you may have the right to include the emotional distress you suffered because of medical malpractice as part of your injury claim. To learn more about the
When Can You Include Emotional Distress as Part of a Medical Malpractice Claim Against a Hospital?
Simply claiming that the hospital caused you emotional distress might not offer you the opportunity to pursue the compensation you deserve following medical malpractice. In some cases, you may not have enough evidence that you have suffered emotional distress, including depression or anxiety, because of the error of a medical care provider.
To file a claim, you may need to discuss these key questions with your lawyer.
Did your care provider, including a doctor or nurse, deviate from the standard of care in your case?
In most cases, to show that you have grounds for any type of medical malpractice claim, you will need to establish that the care provider deviated in some way from the standard of care expected of a medical care provider in that specific type of case. For example, you might need to show that your care provider did something that posed a risk to your overall safety.
Did your care provider:
- Fail to properly diagnose you based on clearly-presented criteria?
- Fail to treat you for the diagnosis offered, despite a clear standard of treatment and expectations for treatment for that specific ailment or injury?
- Neglect to inform you about the possible side effects or consequences of a procedure in cases where those side effects or consequences might have changed your decision to consent to the procedure?
- Fail to procure your consent before beginning a needed medical procedure in a non-emergency situation?
- Commit a never event during your care, including a devastating surgical error?
If you cannot show that the care provider deviated from the standard of care in some way, you likely will not have grounds for any type of medical malpractice claim, including one based entirely on emotional distress. You cannot, for example, file a claim for emotional distress because a specific type of procedure caused you undue distress or because you suffered distress while spending a long time in the hospital. The hospital typically does not take on responsibility for your emotional well-being during your treatment, especially in the case of emergent medical needs.
Did you suffer direct damages because of your care provider’s actions?
Most medical malpractice claims clearly lay out the financial damages or physical injuries the victim sustained because of the care provider’s overall negligence. For example, suppose your care provider failed to diagnose your issues properly. In addition to the emotional distress associated with the fact that a care provider did not listen to your needs, you may have obvious financial or physical damages from that negligent act. For example, you might have increased medical bills as you continued to pursue treatment from other care providers, or you might note that your medical condition deteriorated significantly while you waited for treatment, since your care provider failed to properly diagnose your condition.
If you have physical or financial damages associated with your injuries, it may prove much easier to seek compensation for the emotional distress caused by the hospital. Your injury claim will generally include compensation for the distress and suffering you went through because of the care provider’s negligence, which means that you can include your emotional distress as part of the larger claim.
Do you have a clear diagnosis or other medical evidence of your emotional distress?
In some cases, you might have grounds to file a claim for emotional distress alone. Your care provider might have committed an act of negligence that ultimately worked out in your favor or that did not ultimately cause further damage or financial problems, but that caused you immense emotional distress or other ongoing challenges.
You may have the right to claim compensation for that emotional distress if you can prove it clearly. You may need a diagnosis from a psychiatrist or other medical care provider that clearly lays out the suffering you have faced because of your care provider’s negligence.
You might have a diagnosis for:
- White coat syndrome, or fear of medical care providers, caused by a provider’s negligent treatment
Your psychiatrist will also need to clearly establish that the condition occurred because of the negligent actions of your care provider rather than coming from an outside source.
How to Include Compensation for Emotional Distress in a Medical Malpractice Claim
If you need to file a claim against a hospital that includes compensation for the emotional distress you may have faced, working with a lawyer can make it easier to include all the suffering you may have faced and the compensation you may deserve. Your lawyer may ask you a number of questions about the conditions you may have faced and how they resulted from your care provider’s negligence.
What symptoms did you suffer because of your care provider’s negligence?
Can you show specific symptoms or challenges that resulted directly from your care provider’s negligence? For example, you might note that, after suffering severe negligence in the hospital, you suffered immense PTSD or that you now struggle to trust future medical care providers. Discuss the symptoms that resulted from your care provider’s medical negligence, including how they have impacted you and any long-term challenges associated with that medical negligence.
How did the medical malpractice event impact you emotionally?
Your lawyer may want to discuss the emotional distress you suffered because of the medical malpractice with you. How did it impact you emotionally? Have you suffered from increased anxiety? Did you suffer from high levels of depression?
Major medical events can often cause substantial emotional distress all on their own. You may not know, for example, what your future medical health will look like or how you will eventually recover, what your financial costs will look like, or how your condition will interfere with your overall independence.
You may need to work with a psychiatrist to clearly differentiate between distress caused by medical malpractice and distress caused by the medical condition itself. However, your lawyer can help you go over the various consequences you have dealt with and how medical malpractice has impacted you.
How has the medical malpractice event impacted your ability to engage in hobbies and activities or to take care of yourself?
Medical malpractice can lead to substantial injuries and suffering. In many cases, for example, you may find it very difficult to engage in the hobbies you once enjoyed, including the things that may have made up a large portion of your out-of-work activities. You may find that you can no longer engage in those activities at all or that you have to reduce your involvement substantially. Talk to your lawyer about your prior hobbies and how the medical malpractice event may have impacted them.
Next, consider how the medical malpractice event may have impacted your ability to take care of yourself. In many cases, severe injuries lead to an immense change in the way you have to rely on other people. You may need help with simple activities that you once took for granted. As a result, you may have an ongoing emotional struggle to accept that loss of independence.
Have your injuries impacted your relationships in any way?
Medical malpractice may have a substantial impact on your interactions with your loved ones. You may have to rely on your spouse or children more heavily or turn to close friends for support. In addition, you may lose some friendships because of your continuing weakness, especially if you can no longer engage in the hobbies or activities you once enjoyed together. Talk to your lawyer about the impact the medical malpractice may have had on your relationships, as well as how that may have impacted you.
Do You Need to File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you suffered immense distress because of the negligent actions of a medical care provider in a hospital, a lawyer can help you learn more about your next steps and the compensation you may deserve, including compensation for those emotional challenges. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your next steps after suffering medical malpractice.