Medical Treatment by Boarding School Infirmiry

Facts: Highschool boy gets injured in a basketball game at his boarding school. He is treated by the school infirmary in consultation with a physician. The physician diagnoses muscle strain, and orders pain medicine and physical therapy. After some time, the boy returns home to a foreign country and is treated by a physician who diagnoses via x-rays and MRI that his back bone was misaligned and he had torn cartilage in his lower vertebrae; and that even with surgery, he could have permanent, life-long nerve damage and debilitating injury. Surgery is performed with the question pending on the life-long damage.

Issue: What should the boy do? He wants to return to school. His parents are in a foreign country and they do not speak English. Should he consider a medical malpractice complaint?The boy and/or his parents should consult with an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice. In order to prove medical malpractice he needs to prevail in proving that there was a duty, as well as a breach of that duty, that caused injury and damages.

The duty arises from a physician/nurse – patient relationship. The boy was treated by a nurse consulting with a physician and therefore had such a relationship. The breach of that duty must be established by an expert who is willing to testify that the professionals treating him had a duty to diagnose and treat the injury (that he has now), and since they did not, they delay in diagnosis caused permanent and debilitating injury that is distinguished from any such injury one could incur through playing basketball.

He needs to obtain copies of the infirmary records along with the records from his treating physicians in the foreign country. It doesn’t matter that his parents are not English speaking, a translator will do fine and in any event, a next friend will have to be appointed prior to the filing of the complaint, and this next friend can be someone local that is trusted. Furthermore, depositions can be taken via video so that would dispense with the travel from the foreign country.

Filing a lawsuit doesn’t mean that he has to be in a negative environment at his school. The school has insurance for the medical professionals that practice their profession there and the insurance company will be paying the settlement or jury award. If he really has the lifelong injuries, there should be no question and the school cannot retaliate against him for exercising his legal right and making him whole again.

There is a statute of limitation for medical malpractice claims and in Michigan it is 2 years from the date of accrual of the injury. Within this two year period, a notice of intent to sue for medical malpractice must be filed and it must be filed within very specific statements and within a very specific time period.

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