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Minnesota Supreme Court Ruling Could Redefine Medical Malpractice Lawsuits


Proper medical treatment depends, first and foremost, on a proper diagnosis. If a doctor fails to accurately or promptly diagnose a patient’s medical condition, he or she may not obtain proper medical treatment and can suffer further medical complications or death as a result.

Many states disagree about when a plaintiff may proceed with a legal claim based on a failure to diagnose, with some states applying the “loss of chance” legal theory of medical malpractice liability.

Minnesota became the latest state to adopt the “loss of chance” legal theory when its highest court ruled earlier this month that plaintiffs could move forward with their legal claim against a doctor for the failure to diagnose, in 2006, a suspicious lump on their daughter’s body that eventually morphed into a rare and aggressive form of cancer. The patient is now 6 years old, has finished first grade, and is undergoing chemotherapy.

With this ruling, Minnesota joins 22 other states that allow patients to sue for damages when a doctor’s negligence causes a patient to “lose a chance” of recovery or survival. Under Minnesota’s former law, a plaintiff could only pursue legal action in cases of “improbable survival,” or when the chances of survival slip below the threshold of 50 percent.

In the opinion Justice Paul Anderson wrote, “a patient’s chance to survive or recover is something of value, and, if taken away, should be regarded as an injury.” Justice Anderson went on to note that the plaintiffs face an “uphill battle” in ultimately winning their case, but that they should have an opportunity to pursue their legal claim.

The failure to diagnose cancer, an impending heart attack, a neurological disorder, or other medical condition may be caused by negligence. When doctors fail to respond to patients' concerns, order follow-up tests and make a proper diagnosis, cancer and other medical conditions can become worse, with the likelihood of survival reduced.

At Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish, our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers represent people who have not been timely diagnosed or treated for their illness. We are dedicated to protecting injured victims and their families, and have obtained record setting and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of our injured clients.

If you have been or a loved one did not receive a proper or timely diagnosis, contact the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible medical malpractice claim.

Steinberg Goodman & Kalish  (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (800) 784-0150 or (312) 782-1386.