Emotional Distress After Delayed Medical Treatment

Emotional Distress After Delayed Medical TreatmentWe put faith in our doctors and nurses to act immediately if we face severe medical problems. Unfortunately, not every patient receives treatment at the proper time. This can worsen physical outcomes and give them emotional distress they don’t deserve. If you’re suffering emotional distress after a negligent doctor delayed your treatment, you may be able to sue the hospital or treating doctor for emotional distress due to delayed medical treatment. Our Chicago delayed treatment attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC are here to demand justice for you. Since our founding in 1970, our trial lawyers have recovered more than $400 million for clients in the Windy City after negligent parties left them in harm’s way. For a no-obligation case review, contact us today at 312-346-8620.

What Is Delayed Treatment Malpractice, and Why Does It Happen?

A patient’s treatment is considered “delayed” if they don’t receive it when they should. Some examples of delayed treatment include:

  • Misdiagnosis – A patient receives the wrong diagnosis or treatment for their condition. Sometimes, a doctor will realize they misdiagnosed a patient and correct course. Other times, they may not become aware of or act on a misdiagnosis at all.
  • Provider neglect – A doctor does not timely prescribe or conduct the necessary treatment for their patient.
  • Miscommunication/lack of communication – A nurse or laboratory may not promptly alert a patient’s doctor about worrisome findings or test results.
  • Logistical failure – Delayed treatment can result from improper communication or neglect during shift changes.

What Do I Need for a Delayed Treatment Lawsuit?

While delayed treatment harms patients’ health and satisfaction under any circumstances, it’s crucial to note that not every instance of delayed treatment constitutes medical malpractice.

For delayed treatment to be considered malpractice, you must prove that the doctor was negligent. In Illinois, there are multiple parts (“elements”) of negligence, and all must be present for the best chances of success in a lawsuit:

  • Existing doctor-patient relationship – You were the doctor’s patient and received care and advice as part of standard appointments, consultations, hospital stays, or other formal visits.
  • Standard of care violated – Other doctors with the same skills and training would not cause your treatment to be delayed.
  • The delayed treatment caused harm – By delaying your treatment, your doctor caused your emotional distress, physical injury, prolonged suffering, or worsening medical condition.

Further, before you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit, your lawyer must obtain an affidavit of merit from another medical professional. This person, called an “affiant,” must:

  • Have expertise in the area of medicine pertinent to your case
  • Practice or teach medicine in the relevant specialty, either currently or within the past six years
  • Have the appropriate experience, as dictated by the facts of the case

Your lawyer will consult with the affiant to get an opinion on your case and whether your doctor was negligent. By signing the affidavit, they are telling the court under oath that you have reasonable cause to file your malpractice suit.

Showing Emotional Distress After Delayed Treatment

Even if a patient has a good prognosis after delayed treatment, emotional distress can linger long afterward. To pursue the fairest compensation possible for you, your lawyer will determine the best way for you to prove your delayed treatment caused you to experience emotional distress.

Showing Emotional Distress

The first way to prove emotional distress is through regular journaling. As soon as possible after you discover your treatment was delayed, purchase an empty notebook or diary. Write entries at least once each day about:

  • The type of negative emotions you are feeling (such as sadness, worry, anger, burnout, or grief)
  • How intense your emotions are on a 1-10 scale
  • The emotions’ impact on your work and daily activities

You should also record information about your physical condition, such as:

  • Physical pain
  • Symptoms you experience after the malpractice
  • Whether symptoms get better or worse from day to day
  • Medical appointments, procedures, tests, and medications

Finally, in addition to journaling, we recommend you begin a relationship with a certified therapist. A mental health professional can provide an extra listening ear and help you work through negative emotions. If you receive a formal diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or PTSD, however, they could also create official documentation to prove your emotional distress.

What Compensation Can I Seek for My Emotional Distress?

Losses you can claim in a medical malpractice lawsuit boil down to two types: economic and non-economic. Economic losses are those with an actual cost, such as medical bills.

Emotional distress, however, is a non-economic loss because it does not have a clear-cut cost. Your legal team will use either of two methods to determine the value of your non-economic losses:

  • Per diem method – Your lawyer will work with subject matter experts to calculate the cost of your emotional distress per day. Then, they’ll multiply the amount by how many days your recovery is expected to last.
  • Multiplier method – Your lawyer will work with medical and financial experts to calculate the value of your economic losses. Then, they’ll multiply it by a number from 1.5 to 5. Which “multiplier” a lawyer uses will depend on how severe your losses are.

Some states limit how much a successful plaintiff can receive for their non-economic losses. Illinois used to limit non-economic damages until the state Supreme Court removed the cap in 2010.

Time Limit to File a Delayed Treatment Suit

In Illinois, medical malpractice lawsuits have a limited filing period. According to the statute of limitations, your legal team can file a lawsuit up to two years from the date you discover your treatment was delayed and four years from the date of an incident of malpractice.

Your lawsuit may have different deadlines under particular circumstances. For example, if you were under 18 when the malpractice occurred, you have eight years from the date of the incident to file your lawsuit. However, you will no longer be able to file after your 22nd birthday.

After an incident of malpractice, finding an attorney you trust as soon as possible is crucial. This will give your legal team more time to prepare a lawsuit and participate in settlement negotiations. If the filing period ends, the court will dismiss your case, and you will no longer have the right to demand compensation for the delay and the emotional distress it caused you.

Contact a Chicagoland Malpractice Attorney Today

Did your doctor negligently delay your medical treatment? If so, let the Illinois delayed treatment lawyers of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC fight aggressively for the compensation you deserve. Call our downtown Chicago office at 312-346-8620 or contact us online for a free consultation today.

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Written by Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC Last Updated : December 5, 2023