Can Doctors Get in Trouble For Misdiagnosis?
Yes, doctors can get in trouble for misdiagnosis. Two possible consequences of misdiagnosis are:
- Getting sued for money damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- The state medical board could suspend or revoke his license to practice medicine.
Neither consequence is automatic. The potential remedies will depend on the facts of the case. The state agencies that regulate medical doctors usually only investigate and take action after many complaints against the physician. Millions of people in America do not get the correct diagnosis when they go to the doctor.
The Factors of Medical Malpractice
Not every instance of misdiagnosis is medical malpractice. The law does not require doctors to be perfect. Even when a doctor makes a mistake, it is not necessarily malpractice. The misdiagnosis must satisfy all the elements for a successful medical malpractice case, which are:
- The medical professional owed you a duty of care. If the person who made the misdiagnosis was your doctor, the facts satisfy this element. All doctors owe their patients quality medical care at the same level as other similar medical professionals would deliver under similar circumstances.
- The doctor’s conduct failed to meet the applicable standard of care. If the doctor made a mistake that other similarly situated doctors would not have made, the doctor was negligent.
- The medical negligence caused you to suffer harm. If you were not harmed by the mistake, there is no malpractice. Let’s say that your doctor told you that you were pregnant, but immediately realized that the lab results were for another patient. He cleared up the situation right away. You might have been surprised, but you did not sustain physical harm.
- The harm must be quantifiable. This element usually requires physical consequences. Emotional distress without physical harm does not tend to satisfy this element of medical malpractice. For example, your doctor misdiagnoses you with kidney cancer. He performs surgery and removes the kidney, which was actually healthy and cancer-free. You lost a healthy kidney and underwent an unnecessary operation. These facts show measurable harm as the result of the misdiagnosis.
When the facts meet the requirements of all four of these issues, you can file an action for medical malpractice.
An Incorrect Diagnosis
A wrong diagnosis happens when the physician makes a diagnosis, but it is not the correct one. The dangers of a wrong diagnosis are two-fold:
- The patient’s actual condition goes untreated. In illnesses like heart disease, failure to treat the correct condition can lead to the patient’s death.
- The patient suffers harm from taking prescribed medications or undergoing medical procedures for the wrong condition. For example, a patient with high blood pressure gets accidentally diagnosed with something else. The doctor might prescribe medication that raises the blood pressure even more, causing the patient to have a stroke.
When a patient feels worse, not better, after starting a new treatment, he should seek medical attention right away.
Failure to Make a Diagnosis
Let’s say that a patient went to the doctor complaining of exhaustion. The doctor ordered a routine panel of blood work. When the results came back from the lab, the doctor did not notice the abnormalities that should have caused him to order additional testing. The patient had leukemia, which he might have survived, if he had started treatment right away.
When the cancer was finally detected, the patient’s disease had progressed too much for chemotherapy, radiation, or other interventions to be successful. The failure to make a diagnosis cost the patient his life.
Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases
The amount of damages in medical malpractice actions varies from one case to the next, depending on the facts. For example, removing a healthy appendix because of misdiagnosis will likely have a lower damages award than accidentally removing a healthy kidney, because an appendix is not an essential organ.
We cannot say how much compensation you can pursue until we talk with you and investigate your situation. The categories of damages can include:
- The extra medical costs you incurred because of the misdiagnosis.
- Losing the window of opportunity to treat the correct illness and get a positive outcome.
- The amount of additional physical pain and emotional distress you experienced because of the misdiagnosis.
- Lost wages, which can include missing your salary, wages, self-employment, and other types of regular income because of the malpractice.
We determine damages on a case-by-case basis. No two situations are identical. We will give your claim the individual attention it deserves.
Newsome Melton Wants to Help You
If you think that you or a loved one suffered harm because of medical negligence, a malpractice lawyer can help. We can evaluate your facts to see if you might have a medical malpractice case. We perform this valuable service at no charge to you. Knowing that doctors can get in trouble for misdiagnosis, we hope that you call Newsome Melton today at (855) 633-2757 to get started. The initial consultation is free, and there is no obligation
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