A misdiagnosis from a doctor or medical professional can have devastating consequences. From receiving incorrect medication, to delays in proper diagnosis, a misdiagnosis can result in serious harm or death to patients.
For misdiagnosis to be considered medical malpractice, you need to prove that you or your loved one suffered at the hands of a negligent doctor. This includes whether they met the standards of care. Would the correct diagnosis have been clear to another doctor in the same situation? Were all necessary steps taken?
If you believe you have a valid claim for misdiagnosis medical malpractice, you deserve proper compensation for the suffering it caused. We will explain examples of misdiagnosis, how it can be prevented, and the next steps to move forward with your potential claim.
What is a misdiagnosis?
Misdiagnosis medical malpractice occurs when a doctor inaccurately diagnoses an illness or condition, or they fail to diagnose one at all. In the U.S., 12 million people are affected by medical diagnostic errors each year.
Sometimes misdiagnosis occurs without issues, because the medical problem runs its course, the person heals, and no further action is needed. Other times, however, the diagnosis is so inaccurate that incorrect treatments are administered, or treatment is not administered at all, and patients suffer serious harm or death.
In those instances, patients may decide to take legal action. If you’re considering whether you have a valid misdiagnosis medical malpractice case, there are some basic requirements you will need to meet:
- The doctor was treating you directly. A patient-physician relationship must exist. In the case of misdiagnosis, you have to establish you were working with a doctor. If, for example, you received an incorrect medical diagnosis from a doctor you were chatting with outside of an office, they were not treating you directly.
- The standard of care was not met. Patients have the right to expect that doctors and other medical professionals will perform care according to these standards. If the standards are not met, this can establish negligence. This includes whether doctors took the necessary steps to ask further questions and rule out certain diagnoses using the differential diagnosis method.
- The doctor’s negligence resulted in injury or harm. Patients have to prove the professional’s negligence directly caused harm. For example, if someone was having a heart attack but the doctor misdiagnosed them with indigestion or anxiety, the lack of proper treatment can lead to serious consequences or death.
- The injury caused significant damages. Patients must prove their injuries resulted in pain, mental suffering, significant medical bills, or loss of income.
If you can show these items to an experienced medical malpractice attorney, they can evaluate your potential case, offer honest advice, and help you with next steps. Often, you will also need the opinion of a medical expert to prove the standards of care were not met.
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Examples of misdiagnosis
In addition to a wrong diagnosis and a missed or delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis also can be a result of faulty lab results or improper testing that led to delayed treatment or no treatment. In this case, another medical technician or other staff may be responsible.
Other examples of misdiagnosis can include failure to do the following:
- Recognize complications
- Diagnose a related disease
- Diagnose an unrelated disease
Due to the strong resemblance to other illnesses or conditions, some commonly misdiagnosed illnesses include the following:
- Heart attack: Misdiagnosed as indigestion or panic attack
- Lupus: Misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia
- Parkinson’s disease: Misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s, stroke, or stress
- Lyme disease: Misdiagnosed as the flu, mononucleosis, or chronic fatigue syndrome
- Celiac disease: Misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease
- Asthma: Misdiagnosed as recurring bronchitis
Other misdiagnoses include a delayed cancer diagnosis, diagnosing a patient with cancer when they do not have it, stroke, meningitis, and appendicitis.
Since some illnesses closely mimic others, such as the ones listed above, it can come down to a doctor using the proper methods and techniques to rule out a certain disease compared to others. This includes asking all possible questions, taking all necessary tests, and following up closely and frequently.
Failure to take the necessary steps can be ruled as negligence.
A misdiagnosis that leads to serious harm or death can break your trust in the healthcare system. Even though taking legal action can’t reverse what happened, it can provide you with the compensation you deserve to move forward.
The next step to sue for misdiagnosis medical malpractice is to reach out to a compassionate, fearless attorney to evaluate your case, provide honest feedback and support, and, if your case has merit, get the results you deserve.
The Medical Malpractice Team at Grover Lewis Johnson is backed by 25 years of experience and a bold, respected reputation. Our success in cases similar to yours will guide us to confidently help you win.
Call us today to speak with our team. Grover Lewis Johnson believes compassion and open communication are essential to standing by our clients and supporting them. Starting with a free consultation, we will listen to you, understand you, and offer honest recommendations for your possible case.