January 24, 2019 | Medical Malpractice
We all trust our doctors and surgeons and believe that they will accurately diagnose our medical conditions based on their experience and expertise. These critical diagnoses will determine a course of treatment. But what if the diagnosis is wrong?
Misdiagnosing an illness or injury is a type of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is negligence by a physician or other health care provider where treatment was inferior and resulted in harm or injury to the patient, or even death.
Medical malpractice is a growing problem in the U.S., with more than 61,000 cases in 2016 that resulted in more than $3.6 billion in payouts (data from the National Practitioner Data Bank).
Medical Misdiagnosis – The Most Common Cause of Malpractice Complaints
A misdiagnosed condition, or a case where a doctor fails to diagnose a condition, may cause a patient to miss treatment that may have prevented serious harm and even death. Misdiagnosing a patient’s health problem can also lead to harmful and incorrectly-prescribed treatments.
Celiac disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis are examples of commonly misdiagnosed conditions.
Are All Doctor Errors Malpractice?
Not all misdiagnosis errors are medical malpractice or negligence.
In order to be successful in a medical malpractice suit based on a wrong diagnosis, a claimant must prove that:
· A doctor-patient relationship existed;
· The doctor acted in a negligent manner, meaning that treatment was not provided in a reasonably skillful and competent way;
· The patient’s accident or injury was directly related to the doctor’s mistake; and
· The negligence caused harm to the patient.
To put it another way, the case must demonstrate that a different doctor in the same field and under similar circumstances would not have misdiagnosed the patient’s case.
Here are a few examples of medical misdiagnosis on the part of a doctor: neglecting to order or misinterpreting critical lab tests; not considering the patient’s full medical history; diagnosing a tumor as benign where it was really malignant.
To have a successful malpractice misdiagnosis case, the claimant must prove that the cause of the worsening injury or illness is a direct result of the doctor’s negligence in misdiagnosing and that it would not otherwise have happened.
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