The key issue in such cases is whether the doctor adhered to an acceptable standard of care. Simply stated, would another doctor, with similar training, have identified the problem and acted upon it in a timely fashion?
If you believe that you have been harmed by a doctor’s malfeasance, a misdiagnosis attorney who specializes in medical malpractice can help you to hold him or her accountable, and receive compensation for your injuries.
There is, of course, a good deal of potential for misdiagnosing diseases or conditions. Some of the more common ones include:
- Heart attack – Often mistaken for panic attacks or indigestion
- Asthma – Frequently misdiagnosed as COPD (especially if the patient is a smoker) or recurring bronchitis
- Staph infection – Often it’s just the flu
- Lymph node inflammation – Confused with appendicitis
- Cancer – Many other conditions may look like cancer, and the patient is subjected to unnecessary radiation or chemotherapy
- Stroke – Mistaken for migraine or other conditions, particularly in younger patients
Usually, a misdiagnosis involves either a diagnosis that was made too late, or test results that were misinterpreted. If the negligence of a medical practitioner has caused the misdiagnosis, there may be a basis for a medical malpractice action.
Misdiagnosis can also involve:
- Failing to screen for a medical condition
- Failing to take a proper patient history
- Failing to refer the patient to a specialist
Any of these failures can lay the groundwork for a malpractice suit.
Pursuing a Misdiagnosis Lawsuit
In order to pursue a lawsuit for misdiagnosis, your attorney will seek to show that the doctor did not display the same level of skill that a similarly trained, similarly experienced doctor would have under the same circumstances. Your attorney will also seek to prove that this lack of proper care caused you harm.
Usually, your doctor will be the only person who can be sued – this is simply because your doctor is the one who misdiagnosed you. However, if nurses, specialists or lab technicians also contributed to the misdiagnosis or caused you harm in other ways, they may also be sued. Your medical misdiagnosis attorney will not usually be able to sue the hospital on your behalf, because doctors are considered to be independent contractors.
It’s isn’t sufficient to show that the doctor misdiagnosed you. You will have to prove that the misdiagnosis actually caused you harm. This type of harm could include:
- Performing unnecessary surgery (especially if you are scarred or otherwise disfigured as a result)
- Exposing you to treatment that is more aggressive than what would be required if you were diagnosed properly, or sooner
- Needlessly exposing you to chemotherapy or radiation
- Increasing the likelihood of death
- Increasing the likelihood of complications
A medical misdiagnosis attorney will work with you to determine if any of these factors can form a basis for a malpractice lawsuit.
In a medical malpractice case, or for that matter any sort of lawsuit, you will need to be aware of the statutes of limitations. The statutes can vary from state to state, but this essentially means that you have to file your complaint within the time mandated by law. In some jurisdictions, the statute may not begin running until you actually discover your injury. In others, they may run from the point when the injury occurred. A medical misdiagnosis attorney can advise you regarding statutes of limitations.
Get Expert Assistance
Doctors have access to lawyers provided by their malpractice insurance provider who will immediately leap to their defense, and you can’t possibly fight them on your own. It is imperative that if you are a victim of medical misdiagnosis, you see an attorney immediately so that your rights are protected.