It happens more often than people may realize. Hard-working employee is concerned about their health and they see their primary physician. The physician does not find anything, leaving the employee to live with the condition or issue longer. A few months later, the employee seeks a second opinion from another physician, the symptoms have returned (or have never left). It is then that she finds out she has cancer – something that should have been caught earlier by her primary physician.
Instead of taking a week off of work to treat the condition, the employee will now need to endure long-term treatments and miss several weeks to several months from her job in order to recover. The employee notifies her employer right away and takes her to leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, the government only entitles an employee to 12 weeks of leave. Once the employee exhausts that leave, her employer lets her go. The employee is left without any way to pay for her medical bills – and all because her physician failed to diagnose her properly.
What to Do if You Are Fired
Just because FMLA leave has been exhausted does not mean the employer can automatically release an employee the day it expires. An employer is required by FMLA to engage in an interactive process with the employee to determine when they will return. Employers often have legal obligations outside of FMLA that they are unaware of or decide to ignore. Also, they may have discriminated against the the employee due to a disability, which means there is hope for an employee.
Holding the Doctor Responsible
First, the employee needs to speak with a medical malpractice attorney regarding her delayed diagnosis. Delayed diagnosis is also medical malpractice. This is especially true if the employee’s physician was negligent in their failure to diagnose or their misdiagnosis. If the physician failed to uphold the medical standards when neglecting to diagnose, he or she is liable not only for the additional treatment the employee now much endure, but her associated medical costs, lost wages, etc. If he is unable to return to work, that physician could also be liable for her loss of earning capacity in the future.
Remember that other common types of medical malpractice claims are:
- Prescription errors: if the physician fails to review your history or his instructions weren’t clear and the pharmacy gives you the wrong doses of medication.
2. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
3. Failure to obtain informed consent: this can happen when you don’t get enough information about the risks of a medical procedure.
4. Unnecessary procedures and treatments.
5. Improper treatments used: when the doctor uses medication or applies treatments
An Attorney Can Help with the Employer Too
Being dismissed from your job just because of an illness is not always legal. If you have been terminated because you exhausted FMLA due to a medical condition, you should speak with an attorney not only regarding the medical malpractice, but regarding your wrongful termination as well.