The time spent sitting in the doctor’s office just waiting and waiting is taking a toll on your nerves. And trying to distract your bored 7-year-old does not help any. Finally, the doctor enters the exam room, and you hear the words, “I’m sorry.”

Except what you hear is not what you expected. The doctor is apologizing for misdiagnosing your child. Weeks of sleepless nights and worry end in anger and confusion. How did this happen? What are your options? Can you sue the doctor and the hospital?

What is medical malpractice?

North Carolina Statute Chapter 90-21.11 states that a suit for medical malpractice is a civil action asking for monetary damages for personal injury or death. The health care provider, in this instance, failed to supply the professional services of medical, dental or other types of health care. The statute continues by stating a suit is possible against a hospital when the claim asserts a breach of duty to the patient including alleged negligent credentialing, monitoring or supervision.

A medical malpractice suit can arise from any of the following:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Incorrect treatment
  • Delays in necessary treatment
  • Surgical mistakes
  • Giving the wrong type of medication including the incorrect dosage
  • Misreading lab tests or other types of tests like X-rays or ultrasounds

When should I report the misdiagnosis?

There is a statute of limitations for reporting the grievous and possibly life-threatening mistake. You must file a claim within three years of the negligent act or one year of discovery an injury. You may not file a claim more than four years after the date of the action.

How much money can I ask for?

The state of North Carolina has no limit for compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are money awarded to you to compensate for injury or loss, which has occurred due to negligence or unlawful conduct.

Punitive damages are the punishment the offender receives for his or her gross negligence. It is separate from the compensatory damages you receive. North Carolina’s medical malpractice law limits punitive damages to three times the amount awarded or $250,000 – whichever is greater.