What is Misdiagnosis
A misdiagnosis that leads to medical malpractice occurs when a medical or healthcare professional fails to make an accurate and/or timely diagnosis of a medical condition that causes harm to tot the patient.
More specifically, a misdiagnosis is when these professionals state you have one ailment rather than the correct one. This is a key difference as a total non-diagnosis or failure to diagnose, is a different type of medical malpractice.
With these cases, it comes down to whether your healthcare provider breached the applicable “medical standard of care” under the specific circumstances of the case. In laymen's terms, it needs to be proven that a similarly-trained doctor within the same medical community would have found the health problem, or identified within a shorter period.
If this is the case, you may have the right to sue for medical malpractice as injury could’ve been avoided, prevented, or been much less serious if the medical professional had acted appropriately.
Common Types of Misdiagnosis
The number of diseases and medical conditions that affect the human population are seemingly endless. Thus, the number of misdiagnosis cases that may occur are also seemingly endless.
However, there is some misdiagnosis that is more common than others. They are:
- Heart attacks (may be mistaken for a panic attack, indigestion, or other issues)
- Strokes (may be mistaken as migraine or other minor head-related patients. This is more common within younger patients as doctors may perceive strokes as something that 999/1000 times affects older people)
- Staph infections (may be misdiagnosed as the common flu or a severe cold)
- Lymph node inflammation (may be mistaken for appendicitis)
- Asthma (one of the more common misdiagnoses, often misdiagnosed as recurring bronchitis)
- Cancer (Cancer has a funny way of presenting itself depending on the type that it is. A doctor may misdiagnose you for cancer and then require you to go through debilitating and unnecessary treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy.)
In most misdiagnosis cases, the diagnosis is either delayed or the diagnostic testing is mismanaged enough to turn out incorrect. Other issues that may arise that cause a misdiagnosis include:
- A failure to refer the patient to a specialist when necessary
- A failure to screen for a particular medical condition that a competent doctor or healthcare professional would’ve recognized under the given circumstances
- Failure to correctly interpret lab test results
- A failure to correctly follow up and investigate potential causes of symptoms that the patient has reported
- A failure to consult with the patient as to their specific symptoms that they’re experiencing
Misdiagnosis That Lead to Medical Malpractice
Misdiagnosis cases typically need to follow the same steps as other forms of medical malpractice to prove negligence, injury, and damages caused by the injury.
These are the things you must be able to prove to claim a medical malpractice lawsuit:
- Proof of a doctor-patient relationship. In other words, following the advice of a doctor you met while out for drinks at the local watering hole doesn’t constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Rather, you must have paid the medical or healthcare professional to treat you for your ailments.
- Proof of negligence. The doctor must have acted outside the standard of care that a competent doctor would under the specific circumstances of your case. Sometimes damages and medical conditions are unavoidable, no matter how much you think your doctor could have done something.
- Proof of injury. Not only does the medical or healthcare professional need to act negligently, but you must also prove that their negligence resulted in injury. These injuries may be both physical or emotional. They may also be financially related.
- Proof of damages caused by the injury. Finally, the medical or healthcare professional must have acted negligently, caused an injury, and you must be affected by that injury. Damages caused may include physical pain, mental anguish, increased medical bills, loss of a job, or loss of future income.
- Financially-related injuries are often represented when the patient receives an injury that no longer allows them to work. For example, if a patient has been working in construction for 35 years and is no longer able to perform their job due to the injury, they may be able to sue for loss of future earnings as they’re no longer able to work the only trade they’re well versed in.
Who can be Sued?
In misdiagnosis cases, typically your primary physician is responsible for medical malpractice. Your primary physician is also known as your main doctor that you visit for annual check-ups or other routine doctor visits.
However, in rare cases, other healthcare professionals may also be held liable if their negligence was either a direct reason for the injury or even contributed to it. In these cases, nurses, lab techs, and any other specialist who has seen you may also be held liable if they didn’t spot what was affecting you when another competent employee in their place would have been able to do so.
In most cases, an outside medical expert will need to be brought into the courtroom to testify that the healthcare or medical professional should have known to correctly spot the misdiagnosis.
The Statute of Limitations on a Misdiagnosis Case
As with all medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations must always be kept in mind.
Those who are interested in suing for medical malpractice should keep in mind that there are always time limits that must be taken into consideration.
This means that you must file an initial complaint within a certain amount of time after you’ve suffered the harm that led to the lawsuit. These deadlines are often decided by state governments and vary wildly across the country.
These statutes of limitations may also begin at different times depending on the state. One state may start the clock upon the discovery of the injury, while another may begin the countdown after the patient has had a reasonable amount of time to discover the injury.
For example, in California, you have three years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit after the injury/harm occurs. However, once you’ve discovered the injury, you’ll only have one year to file a complaint.
Contact our Philadelphia Misdiagnosis Attorneys on (215) 735-4800 If You or a Family member is the victim of Misdiagnosis by a Medical Professional. We operated on a contingency basis and will not pay a cent until we win your case.