General Question

Catnip5's avatar

Could one sue a health care provider or clinic for misdiagnosis?

Asked by Catnip5 (342points) January 22nd, 2021

My cousin was given penicillin by a Rediclinic healthcare provider for an ear infection she never had for the past few weeks. Now she developed a drug allergy from it. She was also warned about the possible side effects from taking penicillin during her first visit with said provider. She recently went to a different clinic to take both antihistamine and NSAID for her drug allergy. The kicker? She was also told by the new provider that she didn’t have otitis media at all and apparently just have something else going on with her ear. Now she couldn’t focus on taking care of her ear situation for a while because of her drug allergy. She had to take time off from work since she finds it so uncomfortable to barely be able to sit down in a chair with her hives.

So I wonder if my cousin might be eligible to sue the Rediclinic provider for misdiagnosis? I read up one article that suggested there could be a possibility to present this scenario as medical negligence over penicillin allergy.

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12 Answers

smudges's avatar

I doubt a case would get very far. For one thing, she was warned about the possible side effects from taking penicillin. Secondly, the new provider telling her she didn’t have otitis media at all may just prove that the penicillin worked. It’s pretty difficult to win a medical negligence or malpractice case.

Caravanfan's avatar

Anybody can sue anybody for anything. Lawyers are more than happy to take your money.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, if her symptoms presented like an infection then I doubt the doctor will be considered at fault. You might be able to try to sue the drug company.

Did she stop taking the medicine when her rash/hives started? Call the doctor? Or, did she keep on taking the medicine?

ALL drugs have warnings about rash, and God forbid, a reaction like TENS (A type of skin reaction where your skin basically peals off and you wind up in the burn unit in the hospital) is often deadly.

I’m not a lawyer or a doctor.

Catnip5's avatar

@smudges But she still have an on-and-off ear infection that isn’t otitis media. It would be one thing if she actually did have otitis media and the penicillin cured it before experiencing the drug allergy, but that was not the case here. She got misdiagnosed by a previous provider and had to take something that gave her hives/sickness for nothing. I haven’t actually brought this question on the table with her yet. But I think she might agree with your answer too. A case could probably be difficult to pursue.

Catnip5's avatar

@JLeslie She sure did stopped right away and went to urgent care. It’s also a good thing that she didn’t develop anaphylaxis and is being taken care of regularly.

gorillapaws's avatar

The way malpractice works is whether the MD followed the “standard of care.” I’m not an MD, none of us have physically examined your cousin, read her medical history, or reviewed any tests results and labs she may have had in the past. That means even if we all happened to be MDs, none of us would be qualified to comment on whether her MD’s treatment was consistent with the standard of care.

Healthcare involves risks and uncertainty. Just because a person has an uncommon reaction and negative outcome to a standard treatment doesn’t mean the doctor was negligent. If that were the case there wouldn’t be any doctors…

JLeslie's avatar

@Catnip5 If I were having ear pain for days or weeks, I’d probably want to try an antibiotic just to see if it might work. I hate taking antibiotics, but it would probably be worth a try.

Sounds like she still doesn’t know what’s wrong with her ear, is that right? It still hurts? Plus, we don’t know if the second doctor is right.

Catnip5's avatar

@gorillapaws (This one also goes for you too, @smudges) I understand that, but did you also review the link in my post where it mentions the following:

“If an individual suffered an allergic reaction after being administered a medication that he or she had knowledge of being allergic to, a medical negligence case can possibly be pursued. An example of this occurrence is if a patient is administered penicillin even though the patient’s arm band or medical notes indicated that he or she was allergic to it”?

I mean…the penicillin scenario sounds exactly last my cousin’s situation. If that quote above me was incorrect, then what was that article trying to argue there? (i.e. If the patient have the knowledge about the medicine’s side effects that may give them allergies, they can still sue and prove medical negligence??)

For the record, no, I’m not actually going to pursue a case. Not for various reasons already mentioned in this thread. But I am still legitimately concern for my cousin’s health.

Catnip5's avatar

@JLeslie She was told by the second doctor that it was just inflammation. Different doctors can give different answers. Nether of those two doctors are ENT specialists, which she plans to see later on after she recovers. Plus some patients apparently get to receive ear drops for their ear infections, while some like my cousin are put on antibiotics. She was told that ear drops were not an option for her kind of infection.

Her ear doesn’t hurt, but just feels clogged. At least she’s starting to recover a little better from her allergies.

JLeslie's avatar

@Catnip5 I’m confused a little. Did your cousin already know she was allergic to penicillin before it was prescribed? The doctor didn’t ask her allergies?

Can I ask what is the name of the medicine she was given?

Catnip5's avatar

@JLeslie It was amoxicillin.

She was never allergic to penicillin before she got prescribed to take a stronger dosage.

JLeslie's avatar

Was it amoxicillin clauvanate? Or, just straight amoxicillin?

People can develop an allergy at any time. Your quote says the person can sue if the patient had prior knowledge, but your cousin didn’t from what you just wrote.

It doesn’t sound to me like the doctor did anything very wrong, but I’m not not a doctor. Pharmaceutical companies do have pots of money for bad allergies and side effects that cause injury, but I’m not sure if that can be pursued if the injury resolves.

If it was both ears they should have probably tried an antihistamine first. I think you said just the one ear, I don’t feel like going back to read the answers again. She probably was put on anti inflammatory medication for her allergic reaction so if antihistamines and steroids were going to help then if she’s getting them for the hives it would help her ear.

So you mean her ear just feels blocked like wanted to pop your ear? She can’t hear well on that side? Like being under water? If that’s the case tell her to chew gum a few times a day for 30 minutes. Assuming she’s able to chew gum.

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