What is Medical Misdiagnosis?
When a professional misdiagnoses a medical illness, condition, or injury, he or she could be guilty of medical malpractice. A misdiagnosis could mean the doctor was merely off-track when diagnosing an injury or illness or misread test results. A misdiagnosis could worsen a medical condition, significantly delay the correct diagnosis (and resulting treatment), and even result in death. If the misdiagnosis resulted from a physician who failed to follow the accepted medical care standards, then a medical malpractice claim could be warranted.
As an example, suppose a heart attack is misdiagnosed as a panic attack or indigestion. In such a scenario, the patient could suffer irreparable harm, or even death, as a result. If a disease like Lyme disease is misdiagnosed as the flu, critical treatment could be delayed, which could have had a much greater chance of success if it had been started earlier. Patients who find themselves worse after visiting their doctor and being told they are “fine” should never wait; instead, they should go to urgent care or an ER immediately.
Your health should always be your number one priority. If you were misdiagnosed—and that misdiagnosis caused you additional injury—you should speak to The Brothers Law Firm as quickly as possible. Attorney John Brothers will evaluate your claim, and if a medical malpractice lawsuit is warranted, he will guide you through the often-complex process. You should never have to face medical malpractice on your own, and The Brothers Law Firm can help you during this difficult time.
How Often Does Medical Misdiagnosis Occur?
According to one source of misdiagnosis statistics, each year, there are more than 12 million cases of misdiagnosis across the United States—about one in 20 patients. Between 10 and 20 percent of those misdiagnosed individuals have a severe medical condition, and 44 percent have some type of cancer. The three most misdiagnosed types of cancer include thyroid cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer. About 28 percent of misdiagnoses can be life-threatening or life-altering.
What are the Most Common Types of Medical Misdiagnosis?
Medical misdiagnoses tend to occur more often in urgent care or ER settings because the patient is generally not established with the clinic or hospital physicians; therefore, the doctor may not have a full and accurate medical history. Because of this, a doctor in a super-busy ER might not be held to the same standard of care as a patient’s regular doctor. Although an ER doctor who misdiagnoses an illness that another ER doctor, given the same circumstances, could have appropriately diagnosed could be held liable. General practitioners or specialists can make misdiagnoses that can have very serious effects. Such a misdiagnosis could be due to:
- Failure to order proper screening tests
- Misreading the results of a test
- An overly tired doctor
- A doctor who has too many patients
- Failure to take a full medical history
- Failure to listen to the patient’s symptoms
- Overconfidence in a medical diagnosis without the benefit of tests
Those misdiagnosed could experience exacerbated symptoms, take unnecessary medications (or are not taking the medicines they need), undergo unnecessary medical treatments (or are not receiving needed medical treatments), and see their health go quickly downhill.
What Should You Do in the Event of a Medical Misdiagnosis?
If you are the victim of medical misdiagnosis, you must first seek appropriate treatment and tend to your health. Next, it is vital that you speak to a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney who will help you determine whether your misdiagnosis is medical malpractice. If the answer to that question is “yes,” then your attorney will file a medical malpractice claim on your behalf, seeking damages for your injuries. A medical malpractice claim can be complex and requires a strong legal professional in your corner as your advocate.
Can You Sue for Medical Malpractice for a Misdiagnosis?
Doctors are not legally responsible for all misdiagnoses. The patient must prove the following to be successful in a medical malpractice claim:
- First, the injured individual must show that a doctor-patient relationship existed. Generally speaking, if you visit a doctor and the doctor bills you or your insurance, then the doctor-patient relationship is easy to prove.
- Next, it must be shown that the healthcare provider failed to act in the same way another healthcare provider would have done, given the same training and the same set of circumstances. In other words, if another doctor would have made the correct diagnosis, given the same circumstances, then the first doctor could have committed medical malpractice. Doctors have a duty of care to their patients, and when they breach that duty of care, medical malpractice could exist.
- The patient must have suffered harm or injury due to the doctor’s breach of duty of care. If a patient is misdiagnosed, but that misdiagnosis causes them no real harm, then there is no case for medical malpractice.
- Finally, there must be damages from the injury. Those damages could be in the form of future medical expenses, rehabilitative expenses, surgical expenses, and medical treatments that would not have been necessary but for the medical malpractice, lost wages, future lost wages, or pain and suffering.
How The Brothers Law Firm Can Help You Following a Medical Misdiagnosis
If you face health challenges due to a medical misdiagnosis, you may feel entirely overwhelmed, unsure of where to turn, or what you need to do for your future. If your injuries were the results of the negligence of a medical professional, you might also be angry (and rightfully so), as well as stressed and anxious about your future. You may also have many questions that need reliable legal answers. Attorney John Brothers believes the legal profession should make the lives of others better; this is why he and his firm provide those struggling in the aftermath of medical malpractice high-quality, experienced legal assistance. The Brothers Law Firm has the necessary skills, the resources, the insights, the compassion, and the experience to handle your medical malpractice claim. Contact The Brothers Law Firm today for an evaluation of your claim for medical malpractice stemming from a misdiagnosis.