Sometimes it takes a celebrity filing a medical malpractice lawsuit to open the eyes of the public and understand their rights as patients. Comedian Trevor Noah, best known as the host of the popular late-night show, The Daily Show, recently sued his doctor as well as the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in Manhattan. In his suit, he claimed that their collective negligence caused him to “sustain permanent, severe, and grievous injuries.”
Trevor Noah’s Medical Malpractice Claims
Obviously, specific conditions, illnesses, and injuries are protected by HIPAA laws, so we don’t know–and may never know–the details of Mr. Noah’s situation, but he alleges that HSS and Dr. Riley J. Williams III “failed to properly diagnose his illness and condition, failed to refer him to specialists with proper skill and training to treat his illness, and negligently performed exams and surgery.”
Additionally, he says that his doctor and the hospital “failed to both provide appropriate medical treatment and to obtain proper and informed consent for treatment.” According to the legal complaint, Mr. Noah received treatment from HSS and Williams III between August 25, 2020, and December 17, 2020, including a surgical procedure on November 23, 2020. During that time, the complaint states that Mr. Noah “sustained severe and painful personal injuries, sustained severe nervous shock, mental anguish, severe emotional distress, and great physical pain.”
The suit also contends that Mr. Noah was “confined to bed and home for a long period of time and was compelled to undergo hospital and medical aid” which led him to suffer “loss of enjoyment of life” and prevented him from doing his job for an extended period of time.
He also alleges that the doctor and hospital failed to “prescribe proper medications, discontinue certain prescription medications, and use proper tests and examinations in order to diagnose the conditions” from which he was suffering and will evidently continue to suffer from since he claims some of his injuries are permanent.
There’s a lot to unpack here.
Proving Medical Malpractice
To prove medical malpractice, a lawyer must demonstrably show that a doctor or other healthcare provider:
- Had a duty of care to the patient
- Breached the standard of that care (or acted in a way that a reasonable, similarly trained person would not have acted)
- The breach or error caused actual harm to the patient
How can a lawyer prove the above? There are several ways, though it’s no easy feat.
- Failure to diagnose: If a doctor misses a diagnosis (or makes an incorrect diagnosis) that any other reasonably competent physician would identify.
- Surgical malpractice: This covers amputation of the wrong body part, committing a surgical error that was avoidable, or operating outside the area designated for the operation.
- Failure to refer to a medical specialist: Complex medical problems often require specialized doctors. In these uncommon medical cases, the law requires a general practitioner to consult with or refer to a specialist physician trained to review specific tests and make certain diagnoses. Failure to do so could be grounds for medical malpractice.
- Lack of informed consent: This occurs when a physician either a) performs a procedure a patient did not agree to, b) did not sufficiently explain the risks and benefits of a treatment, c) had the doctor adequately explained the risks and benefits, the patient would’ve either declined the procedure/treatment or chosen an alternative. In these types of cases, the victim must have suffered actual harm.
- Extraordinary consequences: Physicians are obligated to explain risks and benefits that are generally common to the treatment or procedure, but they’re not required to describe highly unusual risks. However, if a patient experiences one of those highly unusual scenarios, that could signify a mistake on the doctor’s part. For example, a surgeon left a foreign body in the victim’s body from a previous procedure.
What If This Happens to You?
A medical malpractice claim doesn’t have to be as extensive as Trevor Noah’s to warrant a lawsuit. But many people are not aware of their rights as patients in a medical professional’s care. People who have suffered as a result of probable medical malpractice often simply hope they’ll feel better and move along with their lives. The problem is, if they’re suffering from conditions caused by a doctor’s negligence, it may become quite difficult for those people to just move on when they’re in constant pain or are dealing with a new injury or illness.
In hindsight, those patients should have filed a medical malpractice claim against or at least consulted with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to determine whether they had a case–when they realized something was wrong.
If you or a loved one find yourself in Trevor Noah’s situation or simply believe that a medical professional was negligent in his or her duty, you need to consult with an experienced attorney right away.
If this happens to you…
The seasoned medical malpractice attorneys at The Lapidus Law Firm can help you through a malpractice lawsuit. The first step is to call us at (202) 785-5111 or (301) 852-7500 to set up your free, no-obligation consultation, during which we’ll review the details of your case and decide whether you have a strong claim. If so, we will gather all of the information we need to pursue a fair and reasonable settlement to help compensate for your injuries and pain and suffering.
Negligent doctors and facilities should be held accountable for their irresponsible diagnoses, treatment, and advice, and The Lapidus Law Firm is here to help you make them accountable. We are committed to making justice work for you.