Rheumatologists are internal medicine specialists who treat a wide range of musculoskeletal diseases. They diagnose and treat conditions that affect internal organs, bones, muscles, connective tissues and joints. These conditions include arthritis, lupus, tendonitis, back and neck disorders, gout, nerve impingements, osteoporosis, and Sjogren’s syndrome. When a rheumatologist treats your condition in a manner that falls outside the professional duty of care and harms you, you may have a claim for rheumatologist malpractice. However, malpractice claims are complicated. Contact the Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano to discuss your case and understand the strength of your claim.Rheumatologist Malpractice
Rheumatologists evaluate patients by reviewing their medical history, performing tests and conducting imaging studies. CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds may reveal musculoskeletal abnormalities and inflammation. After the rheumatologist has diagnosed the condition, the doctor will propose a treatment plan. Sometimes multiple doctors participate on the patient’s medical team because treatment of the condition requires physicians who practice in several different specialties.
Common errors by rheumatologists that may constitute malpractice include medication errors, failure to diagnose medical conditions or complications, failure to order proper tests, failure to refer a patient to a different specialist, and failure to treat a condition like arthritis or lupus. Sometimes prescribing an inappropriate medication can exacerbate a patient’s condition.Liability
Not every mistake made by a rheumatologist constitutes medical malpractice. Rather, the plaintiff must establish the following to recover damages: (1) the rheumatologist owed you a professional standard of care, (2) the rheumatologist departed from the professional standard, (3) the departure caused your injuries, and (4) actual damages. In most rheumatologist malpractice cases, the plaintiff must retain an expert to provide opinions about the professional standard of care, how the defendant departed from it, and whether the departure was the cause of injuries.
Under New York’s locality rule, rheumatologists are evaluated according to the accepted medical practices in the geographical location where they practice. Therefore, a Syracuse rheumatologist needs to use the reasonable degree of skill and learning ordinarily possessed by rheumatologists in or around Syracuse. In order for you to recover damages, an expert will have to testify that your rheumatologist failed to follow the accepted medical practices of other Syracuse rheumatologists.
Sometimes a defendant health care provider raises the defense that a patient would have suffered the same harm regardless of a timely, appropriate diagnosis or treatment. In addition to testifying that your rheumatologist’s acts departed from the professional standard, the expert will also have to testify those particular acts caused your injuries.
A rheumatologist can depart from the professional standard of care in many different ways. One common problem is failure to diagnose lupus or lupus complications. The symptoms of lupus mimic other diseases and sometimes these symptoms appear gradually and piecemeal over time, making diagnosis difficult. While conducting a differential diagnosis, if your doctor observed the presence of multiple symptoms of lupus but failed to test for or diagnose lupus, the doctor may have committed medical malpractice. Alternatively, if a doctor prescribes medications to regulate your uric acid levels because you have gout, but fails to check for adverse drug interactions, the doctor may be liable for malpractice if the drug interaction results in serious pancreatitis and peripheral neuropathy.
Sometimes rheumatologist errors combine with errors made by a primary care physician or other specialist and together they cause harm. In such cases, an experienced attorney can help you hold all providers accountable for the resulting losses.Damages
If you are able to establish liability for rheumatologist malpractice, you may be able to recover compensatory damages to return you to where you would have been had there been no malpractice. Economic damages include past and future medical bills, lost income, replacement services, and out-of-pocket expenses. These damages can include medication and medical equipment. Noneconomic damages can include mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, and pain and suffering.Consult a Syracuse Lawyer
If you were injured by rheumatologist malpractice in Syracuse, you may be able to recover damages. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our attorneys represent patients and their families in Upstate New York cities such as Rochester, Syracuse, Auburn, Oneida, Cooperstown, Lyons, Oswego, Canandaigua, Binghamton, Watertown, Wampsville, Ithaca, Elmira, Lowville, Herkimer, and Utica. Contact DeFrancisco & Falgiatano at 315-479-9000 or via our online form.