Minn. high court creates ‘loss of chance’ doctrine

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota Supreme Court decision in the case of a little girl with cancer changes the way the state looks at medical malpractice claims.

Friday’s ruling says a patient may recover damages when a doctor’s negligence causes that patient to lose a chance of recovery or survival. It comes in the case of a couple who claimed their daughter’s cancer would have been curable if diagnosed earlier. Kayla and Joseph Dickhoff claim the delay made their daughter’s death more likely.

In the ruling, the majority says the loss of a chance of recovery or survival is a distinct injury, and a doctor who deprives a patient of that chance should be liable.

Those who disagree say the majority opinion unfairly holds doctors liable for harm that may never materialize.

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