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A medical negligence claim must pass professional scrutiny

A medical malpractice case requires extensive investigation prior to filing the complaint. Attorneys who handle medical negligence claims in New Jersey and elsewhere screen potential cases thoroughly. This is due to the complicated nature of such claims, the heavy expense required to litigate them and the rigorous standards to prove causation, making it necessary to view claims selectively. However, one should not try to make that decision without the assistance of an  experienced attorney, nor should a layman attempt to file and litigate such a case without professional guidance.

In one case filed recently in another state, questions of causation and damages may prove problematic. A woman who literally got into the middle of a cat fight is suing a university hospital system for not treating the bite properly.  She tried to stop two cats from fighting and got bit on her forearm. She is also suing a medical clinic that treated her prior to the hospital's emergency room.

She claims that the medical clinic, and apparently also the hospital doctors, did not clean the wound sufficiently. However, when she went to the hospital, she was diagnosed with osteomyelitis and other conditions. That would indicate that the bone infection (osteomyelitis) in the wrist had developed before visiting the hospital. She also was treated by the hospital's infectious disease unit, which saved her arm and maybe her life, according to her complaint. Her claim against the emergency room of the same hospital thus seems to comprise inconvenience more than anything else.  

More information would be needed to say whether this is a valid medical negligence claim here in New Jersey or in other states. It is notable, however, that the plaintiff filed without legal counsel, which may indicate a case with weaknesses. Furthermore, there are questions that emerge from the complaint. For example, if the infectious disease unit saved her arm and her life, then what is the nature of her claim against the emergency room of the same hospital? The causal connection and the damages at first blush seem strained, but a full examination of the facts and the law may ultimately prove a otherwise.

Source: mlive.com, "Cat bite victim sues U-M hospital for alleged medical malpractice", John Counts, Dec. 11, 2015

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Alan D. Bell
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Bloomfield, NJ 07003

Phone: 973-233-4291
Phone: 973-743-7070

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