Is it Medical Malpractice if Your Surgery Was Postponed Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: “What can you sue for in a personal injury case?”


The coronavirus crisis has caused disruption not only to Americans’ everyday life but also to their plans: Interstate and international vacation, birthday parties, weddings, and even surgeries. As the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in the U.S., hospitals have suspended not only elective surgeries such as hip replacement, cataract extractions, removal of a mole or wart, and cosmetic procedures but also critical procedures like cancer surgery.

broken-leg-Medical-Malpractice-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Personal-Injury-Lawyers-246x300On March 23, North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services ordered all hospitals in the state to “suspend all elective and non-urgent procedures and surgeries.”

Previously, we discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic might affect your potential or ongoing personal injury case in North Carolina.


What is Elective Surgery?

When the coronavirus crisis hit the United States, hospitals across the country, including in North Carolina, postponed all “elective surgeries” in order to be able to dedicate more resources and equipment to battling the pandemic and preventing the spread of the virus.

Many patients who had upcoming surgeries wondered, “What is considered elective surgery in the coronavirus era?

While elective does not mean “unnecessary,” it refers to non-urgent procedures. In order to determine whether surgery is elective or not, hospitals consider which procedures can wait and for how long. However, even patients whose procedures are considered “elective” and have been postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic may experience significant physical pain, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life while waiting for their suspended surgery for days, weeks, or even months.

The Department of Health and Human Services in North Carolina defines elective surgery as any procedure or surgery that would cause harm to the patient if not performed within the next four weeks.


Charlotte, NC, Army Veteran’s Surgery Delayed Due to the Coronavirus Crisis

A decorated Army veteran from Charlotte, North Carolina, learned about coronavirus-related surgery delays the hard way. As reported by Fox 46, the female Army veteran, who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, is one of numerous North Carolinians who need surgery but cannot get it due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The veteran’s surgery to repair her knee was put on hold indefinitely. She accuses the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of failing to perform the procedure “months ago.” The woman tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus at her home in July 2019. She visited the Fayetteville VA Medical Center, where a healthcare provider told her to “ice it.”

The woman recalled that this was the end of the doctor’s shift, and “all she wanted to do was go home.” Then, it took the veteran three months to get an X-ray or MRI at Atrium Health Anson. The results found a “near-complete tear” of her ACL. The VA referred her to OrthoCarolina for surgery six months after the injury occurred.


Your Legal Options if Your Surgery Was Delayed Due to the Pandemic

The surgery was scheduled for April 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the woman is in pain and has trouble putting weight on her foot. She blames the VA for not referring her to surgery sooner.

The veteran is one of the countless people whose surgeries have been delayed and postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, many patients suffer damages due to a healthcare provider’s negligent decision to postpone a medical procedure.

If this happened to you and your surgery was delayed due to the pandemic, you may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim if you can prove that the physician’s decision to postpone the procedure was negligent. Contact our Charlotte medical malpractice attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, for a case evaluation. Let us assist you in handling your case during these tough times. Call at (704) 370-2828 to receive a consultation with our lawyers to explore your legal options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.







The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.





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