Patients rely on their medical providers to accurately diagnose injuries and conditions. No one should have to worry that their doctor has given them incorrect or harmful advice.
Unfortunately, misdiagnoses are not as uncommon as we’d like. Some estimates suggest that almost twelve million Americans are misdiagnosed each year.
In nearly half of these cases, the incorrect diagnosis has the potential to cause patients severe harm. If this happens to you, you may have cause to pursue financial compensation for the harm or suffering that you have suffered.
If you or someone you love has sustained damage as the result of a misdiagnosis, do not wait. Contact a reliable misdiagnosis lawyer to explore all your options. You should not have to bear the burdens of medical malpractice.
At Morgan & Morgan, our compassionate attorneys understand the harms that medical negligence can cause.
Our firm proudly offers new clients a no-cost case evaluation. Do not hesitate. To schedule a free consultation with a Morgan & Morgan misdiagnosis lawyer, fill out the contact form on our website.
What Qualifies as Misdiagnosis?
Sadly, many patients experience misdiagnosis. While most doctors do their best to provide accurate information, mistakes can happen.
A misdiagnosis of an injury or illness may happen when a doctor guesses incorrectly or misreads the results of a medical test. By wrongly informing you that you have a certain condition, they can cause you harm.
- An incorrect diagnosis may:
- Cause a serious condition to go untreated
- Result in inappropriate treatments
- Delay an accurate diagnosis
- Result in worse health outcomes from lack of treatment
- Cause physical harm or death
If a patient dies as the result of a misdiagnosis, it can create the grounds for a “wrongful death” claim by the decedent’s family.
A doctor does not have to offer an assessment of your condition for their actions to qualify as a misdiagnosis. Failing to provide a diagnosis can also count as malpractice.
For example, suppose that you are experiencing pain from kidney stones. If the doctor does not take your pain seriously and fails to offer an assessment, it may qualify as misdiagnosis. In a situation like this, you should contact a misdiagnosis lawyer.
A physician is not the only type of medical professional that can misdiagnose patients. In some cases, a hospital or pharmacy may be at fault as an entity.
No matter who the negligent party may be, patients deserve recovery.
When a misdiagnosis happens, the physician has failed to reach the expected “medical standard of care.” Causing harm to a patient through misdiagnosis can be considered to be a form of medical negligence.
To pursue a medical negligence claim, the misdiagnosis must have caused harm to you or resulted in the death of a loved one. Speaking with a qualified misdiagnosis lawyer can help you to understand your legal options.
Steps to Take if Your Condition Worsens After Seeing a Doctor
Around 5% of patients are incorrectly assessed by their doctor. That means that most people are given reliable information about their health and physical condition.
But if your condition or illness gets worse after receiving a diagnosis, you may have been misdiagnosed. If you become worse after seeing your physician, seek additional medical care if it is an emergency.
Your first priority should be your own health and wellness. After seeking appropriate medical care, contact an accomplished misdiagnosis lawyer.
An attorney can help you to determine the best path forward, given your unique situation.
To pursue a medical negligence claim, you should:
- Follow the orders of your physician, unless you become worse
- Seek additional care if you need it
- Not allow your condition to worsen purposefully
This is known as “mitigating damages.” In medical negligence cases, the behavior of both the doctor and the patient are taken into consideration.
Unfortunately, some patients attempt to commit fraud by allowing their condition to worsen on purpose. You should never wait to seek the medical care that you need.
If you have been misdiagnosed and suffered harm as a result, seek appropriate care as soon as possible. This is important for your own health and for the strength of your claim.
If you avoid medical care to make your condition worse, new damage will not be considered as part of your misdiagnosis case. You may be held responsible for any additional injuries or illnesses that occur.
It is best to speak with a misdiagnosis lawyer as soon as possible. Having a legal representative throughout the process will ensure that your rights are protected.
What Do I Do After a Misdiagnosis?
Medical malpractice and misdiagnosis are more common than they should be. This is also true for a delayed diagnosis.
It is important to trust your instincts about your own health. Medical professionals have extensive training, but they cannot directly know exactly how you feel.
If your condition does not improve after following your doctor’s recommended treatments, trust your gut. Seeking additional medical advice when you feel uncomfortable is important.
Following a misdiagnosis, you can return to your regular physician to discuss the additional problems. But you do not have to take this step. Alternatively, you can pursue a second opinion from another medical care provider.
However, you should act as soon as you can. Medical malpractice claims usually have a statute of limitations that falls between two and six years.
A statute of limitations is a legal time limit by which you must pursue a medical malpractice claim. This time limit will vary, depending on the state in which your claim is filed.
If you have decided that you want to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit for the harm caused by your misdiagnosis, speak with a skilled attorney. Most reputable lawyers will provide a no-cost legal consultation to discuss the circumstances of your misdiagnosis.
To have a valid medical malpractice claim, you must prove that your physician acted negligently.
How to Prove Medical Negligence
To successfully recover financial compensation for the damages from your misdiagnosis, you will need to prove medical negligence. There are four common elements needed to prove that a physician was negligent.
Duty of Care
You will need to show that your physician owed you a “duty of care.” Doctor-patient relationships rely on the assumption that the physician will offer a reasonable standard of medical care.
When a physician fails to act as a reasonably competent doctor would, they can be held medically negligent.
Breach of Duty
To prove medical negligence, you must also provide evidence that the physician failed to fulfill their duty of care. It is important to note that not every instance of misdiagnosis counts as medical negligence.
Doctors are only human, and they make honest mistakes. Medical professionals should not have to worry about frivolous lawsuits each time they make a good faith error.
To prove breach of duty, you need to show that a reasonably competent doctor in the same position would have acted differently. If another doctor would have been able to diagnose you correctly, you can claim medical negligence.
A misdiagnosis that does not cause harm is not grounds for a valid medical negligence claim. Negligence implies that the claimant sustained some type of damage.
Did your care provider’s misdiagnosis result in harm to you or a loved one? If so, you must prove that their incorrect diagnosis directly caused the harm suffered.
Consider the following example. Suppose that a general practitioner diagnosed your loved one with a rare respiratory illness, when they actually had the flu. If your loved one was killed in an unrelated automobile accident on the following day, the misdiagnosis was not the primary cause of the harm.
In misdiagnosis cases, the doctor’s negligence must have led directly to the patient’s injury, harm, or illness.
Finally, you must prove that the misdiagnosis resulted in actual damages to you. Suppose that your care provider incorrectly diagnosed you with the flu and you actually had a migraine.
If she prescribed Tylenol to treat you and your flu symptoms improved, the misdiagnosis did not cause you harm. You would not have a valid claim for damages in this scenario.
It can be difficult to prove medical negligence in a misdiagnosis case. If you believe you were misdiagnosed and suffered damages as a result, contact a trustworthy legal professional.