I have Hepatitis C from a blood transfusion received in 1962. I have provided atleast 3 different Internist's this information over the past 15 years. In addition, I have had surgery, continuous elevated liver enzymes and was never given tests for HCV. I have been diagnosed with Pancreatitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Depression, and Panic Attacks. I have watched my marriage destroyed and had absolutely no explanation for the exhaustion I have battled. My daughter, an RN finally went with me to the Internist and because she was there, the Dr. decided to check further. I have 1/4th of my liver left, cirrosis, inflamation, and will eventually need a liver transplant if one is available. I have been seeing this Dr. for 3 years, do I have a case for a Medical Malpractice Law Suit?
2 Answers from Attorneys
The doctor has to fail to uphold the treatent standard and if your problem started in 1962, the stature of limitation is gone. Even at 3 years with your new doctor, it is gone. Welcome to Indiana, insurance company run state. You have to show that the doctor fell below the standard of care at the time. Then you have to pay a panel of doctors to review your case. Then, if you disagree with their opinion, you can file suit. In Indiana you are looking at a 5 year fight to start and $4,000 in up front costs. The insurance companies write these laws and then finance the legislator's campaigns. It is very frustrating. I practice in Indiana and California and it is night and day on the law.
Dr. Michael Cortson
attorney at law
I am sorry for your suffering. I don't think there is enough information in your question to evaluate whether you "have a case." In Indiana, no one can bring a case of medical malpractice without first proceeding to a medical review panel. Here is a link to the Department of Insurance web site, which outlines the procedures for initiating a medical review panel: http://www.state.in.us/idoi/medmal/procedur.html
The filing fee is nominal. You won't have to pay members of the medical review panel unless you want to use their findings in court. It's possible for you to do this without an attorney, but your claim would probably receive even less respect than usual. Whether or not a doctor or other medical provider committed actionable malpractice depends on many factors. First - are you bringing your claim within the time allowed under the statute of limitations - usually something that happened less than two years ago. So your original infection, if it happened fifteen years ago, is not an actionable incident. Even if something happened within the last two years that damaged you, the doctor or medical care provider will still not be liable if they can show that their conduct conformed to the prevailing standard of care for that time and place. The fact that three different internists did not see the problem indicates that you will have a hard time proving that any doctor committed malpractice. Unless you consider litigation to be effective therapy (which as a matter of serious fact it sometimes is), I think your energy would be better spent on regaining your health. Good luck.