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What Happens in a Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?

Feb 10, 2022

If a medical provider failed to diagnose your disease or injury correctly, and you suffered damages as a result, you may be able to bring a misdiagnosis lawsuit against them.

Patient with doctor

However, the law recognizes that medical professionals are human beings — and human beings can make mistakes. So, you cannot bring a medical practice lawsuit for every error or delay in diagnosis. Your case must meet some conditions before you can claim compensation for misdiagnosis.

What Is Misdiagnosis?

Misdiagnosis is when a medical provider presented with a patient's symptoms and test results fails to identify correctly what is wrong with the patient. The medical professional tells the patient that they are suffering from a disease and treats them for that disease when, in fact, the patient is suffering from something else entirely.

A misdiagnosis also includes missed diagnosis, also called failure to diagnose, which is when a medical professional declares a person sound in health even though they have a medical condition.

When there's a misdiagnosis, the patient may never recover from their ill health, because they are receiving the wrong treatment. Worse still, they may develop complications because they're receiving treatments they don't need and not receiving the ones they do need.

Misdiagnosis is common in cancer cases. It can happen when a doctor doesn't discover a patient's cancer early, which may reduce their chance of recovery. Cancer misdiagnosis can also happen when a person who doesn’t have cancer is wrongly diagnosed with cancer. In such cases, they undergo harsh treatments like chemotherapy or radiation that they don't need.

What Does the Legal Process Look Like for Errors in Diagnosis

Misdiagnosis lawsuits are like most medical malpractice cases. To succeed, you must prove negligence. Medical malpractice is more complex than most personal injury cases, and you’ll need to prove both legal and medical issues to succeed. You'll need an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to stand a good chance of winning.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers Review the Facts of the Case

If you've suffered harm from a medical misdiagnosis, contact a medical malpractice lawyer, who will help you decide if you have a case and can pursue compensation. The medical malpractice lawyer will consider some factors to arrive at that decision. Here's what a medical malpractice lawyer does when putting together a case.

Determines If a Doctor and Patient Relationship Existed

You need to establish that the doctor owed you a duty of care by proving that a doctor and patient relationship existed. This is easy to determine. The fact that you consulted with a doctor and they began treating you is enough to show that there was a doctor and patient relationship.

Establishes Whether or Not Negligence Has Occurred

This is where the matter becomes complex. Proving negligence in a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit requires you to show that the doctor’s conduct failed to meet the standard of care expected from a doctor with their training and experience. You must prove that the doctor breached the standard duty of care.

In determining whether there was a misdiagnosis, the medical malpractice attorney will look at your case holistically to decide if a doctor with similar training and experience would have made the right diagnosis. 

Misdiagnosis may involve:

  • Failing to properly consult with the patient to find out their symptoms
  • Omitting to screen for a probable medical condition
  • Failing to order appropriate tests
  • Misinterpreting lab tests or scan results
  • Failing to refer a patient to a specialist

Proves That an Injury Occurred as a Result

After the medical malpractice lawyer decides that there’s enough evidence to show that the doctor was negligent, the next step is to find out if you suffered any injury because of the misdiagnosis.

Lots of times doctors realize early that they misdiagnosed a patient, and they correct the error with no harm to the patient. It’s not enough that there was a misdiagnosis. The important question is: “did it harm you?” 

You cannot recover any compensation for an error in diagnosis if you didn’t suffer any injury that is traceable to the misdiagnosis. There must be a link between the misdiagnosis and your injury. For example, you can recover compensation for complications from chemotherapy treatment to cure cancer that you never had. However, if you were in a car accident during that period, you cannot hold the doctor that misdiagnosed you liable for the injuries you suffered from the car crash, because the two events are not connected, unless you can show that the chemo somehow worsened your injuries.

Legal Damages Are Determined

A claimant in a misdiagnosis lawsuit can claim compensation for the following damages:

Pain and Suffering

Misdiagnosis often causes health complications that may lead to severe pain and suffering that you wouldn't have had to endure otherwise. The law makes allowances for additional compensation due to pain and suffering caused by misdiagnosis.

Wages Lost

You can be compensated for any lost income if you’re unable to work because of the injury caused by the misdiagnosis. It could be because you were hospitalized or hospitalized for longer than you should have been due to the misdiagnosis.

Medical Bills

You can recover any extra medical bills due to a misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis.

A Settlement is Reached

Most misdiagnosis lawsuits end when parties reach a settlement, either before the trial or after the trial has begun. A medical malpractice lawyer will negotiate the settlement amount with the medical provider or hospital responsible for the misdiagnosis on your behalf.

The amount of money you can recover in a misdiagnosis lawsuit settlement is determined by the extent of the damages you suffered and their long-term impact. 

Is Your Injury a Result of Misdiagnosis?

Misdiagnosis is more common than you think. In the United States, 12 million people are misdiagnosed each year. If you have been treating a disease for a long period and your condition is only getting worse, you may have been misdiagnosed.

If you or your loved one are victims of misdiagnosis, and you have suffered injuries because of it, you may receive compensation from those responsible for your injuries. 

The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at The Spence Law Firm have successfully represented clients in many misdiagnosis cases. Contact us today to see if you have a case.

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