When a doctor fails to diagnose a serious medical condition or diagnoses you with the wrong ailment, serious complications can result. You might receive the wrong treatment or no treatment at all. Meanwhile, your condition goes untreated, often worsening inside you. When you finally receive the proper diagnosis, the condition is often much more difficult to treat than it would have been. But is a misdiagnosis considered malpractice?
If a doctor’s failure to accurately diagnose you led to injury or complications, it could constitute medical malpractice. If so, you might be eligible for compensation for your damages.
Winning a medical malpractice lawsuit for misdiagnosis is not guaranteed, however. Misdiagnosis alone does not automatically imply liability on the doctor’s behalf. An attorney can evaluate your situation and determine if your doctor committed malpractice.
A medical malpractice lawyer from Newsome | Melton can answer your questions and advise you of your options. To set up a free consultation, contact us today by calling 1-855-MED-ASKS.
What Is a Misdiagnosis?
A misdiagnosis is a situation where a doctor diagnoses a patient with the wrong condition or ailment. It often falls under the same umbrella as delayed diagnosis and failure to diagnose. In all of these situations, the doctor’s error at the diagnostic stage can lead to injury, complications, and even death. Depending on mitigating factors, the doctor might or might not be legally liable for damages.
How Do I Know If My Doctor’s Misdiagnosis Was Medical Malpractice?
For a misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose to qualify as medical malpractice, several conditions must be present. Before we can hold the doctor or health care provider responsible, we must be able to prove:
- You had an established doctor-patient relationship with the physician in question;
- The doctor exhibited medical negligence by failing to give you proper treatment or by giving inadequate or substandard care; and
- The doctor’s failure to provide adequate care resulted in economic or non-economic damages.
In many cases, we can assume that a doctor-patient relationship existed. That means your case hinges on the ability to prove the second and third conditions: that the misdiagnosis resulted from the doctor’s negligence, and you suffered damages because of it.
When Is a Misdiagnosis Considered Negligence?
Not all cases of misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose happen as a result of negligence. Sometimes, medical conditions present signs and symptoms that differ from typical cases, or symptoms do not appear at all until a later date. In such situations, a doctor might not be reasonably expected to achieve total accuracy in their initial diagnosis.
A doctor is generally considered negligent in a misdiagnosis case if evidence shows that another doctor in a similar specialty presented with the same symptoms would not have misdiagnosed the patient. To determine if this is the case, we look to see how the doctor completed their differential diagnosis process. This is a diagnostic method where doctors produce a list of potential causes of your symptoms and then whittle down the possibilities by asking questions, making further observations, and ordering lab tests.
If we find that the doctor’s differential diagnosis process fell short of or breached the standard of care—and that another physician would have gone through the process differently and would likely have come to an accurate diagnosis—we can often prove negligence and medical malpractice.
Could Anyone Other Than My Doctor Be Liable for My Misdiagnosis?
It is possible that someone other than your doctor was responsible for your misdiagnosis. This can happen when a doctor makes the wrong diagnosis due to faulty diagnostic tests. The erroneous test may be the result of a flaw in the testing equipment, or due to a human error in evaluating the test.
In such cases, legal responsibility may lie in whole or in part with the lab owner, the technician who misread your results, or the company that manufactured the faulty testing equipment.
As we investigate your case, we gather evidence to determine exactly how the misdiagnosis happened. From that information, we can pinpoint who the responsible party or parties were and begin assembling a strong case proving liability.
How Can I Schedule a Free Attorney Consultation?
If a medical misdiagnosis caused you injury and you feel you might have a valid malpractice claim, the legal team at Newsome | Melton can help you pursue it. We offer free consultations and case reviews to answer your questions and advise you of your options.
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