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Doctor’s Diagnosis Failure: Can One Sue?

All patients are dependent on medical practitioners to help them navigate through their health issues. After all, the life of a patient relies upon the timely detection of a disease so that it can be treated in the right manner. However, did you know that in case a doctor fails at making an accurate diagnosis, he can be put under scrutiny with the help of a medical malpractice suit?

Although one point to remember here is that an adverse outcome does not necessarily mean that the cause behind it was medical negligence.  In this article, we would mainly be covering how a patient can proceed in a doctor’s misdiagnosis scenario:

Is it really a case of medical negligence?

When it comes to cases like this, there is a proper protocol or medical standard of care which needs to be followed. As a patient who undergoes misdiagnosis, it is crucial to prove that the concerned medical practitioner breached these guidelines. In layman’s language, it would be essential to analyze whether a doctor in the same field would be able to diagnose the problem in a shorter span as compared to the concerned doctor.

Do you know these kinds of common misdiagnosis?

Since the medical realm is vast, we cannot list down all types of potential misdiagnosis problems. However, the most common kinds of misdiagnoses that occur include disorders such as cancer, asthma, and heart attack. Asthma may often be misconstrued as a recurrent bronchitis issue, whereas a heart attack can prove to be fatal in case the diagnosis is mistaken to be a panic attack or indigestion.

Additionally, a doctor may not be able to understand lymph node inflammation as it can be misconstrued as appendicitis. In other situations, a stroke can be ignored on the pretext of similarity to a migraine. On the other hand, a misdiagnosis may also occur in case a diagnosis was mismanaged, or delayed. Some probable scenarios which come under misdiagnosis include the following:

  • Medical practitioner fails to send the doctor to a specialist in critical cases
  • Lab test results are misinterpreted
  • The doctor does not screen the particular medical condition properly
  • Doctor fails to follow up properly or put a finger on the potential causes of recurrent symptoms

What are the medical malpractice laws that you should know about?

Medical malpractice lawsuits are similar in nature for all kinds of medical cases. Similar footsteps need to be followed for a misdiagnosis and wrong treatment. They would require proof to show that the medical practitioner failed to diagnose a severe health condition accurately. The reports, prescriptions, and diagnoses- all need to be in place for you to prove this. The primary point here is to determine that a similarly trained doctor would have been able to diagnose the same condition given the same situation.

You would also need to lay out all of the treatment details. A secondary medical expert would be required here to prove what was the essential course of treatment, and instead, what was undertaken. It would also need to be convinced that the doctor’s provision of mediocre care would harm the patient.

When and who can come under scrutiny?


Now, here is the main question. In most medical misdiagnoses cases, most patients would sue only the primary physician. However, in other cases; additionally involved health care professionals may also face this liability. For example, in the case of a cancer patient- only the oncologist would not be responsible. Even the doctor administering chemotherapy or involved radiologist may come under scrutiny.

Additionally, in some cases, you would be able to file a suit against the hospital. A patient can sue any entity or hospital, where the concerned medical professional was working. In some cases, doctors work on independent contracts. Even so, the hospital can be sued even if the doctor is an agent working there.

 

However, it is essential to prove damages, which include pain and suffering and economic damages. In case of a medical malpractice suit, you need to prove that this failure resulted in causing harm to the patient. Some of the ways in which a patient can suffer, include the following:

  • The patient was exposed to extremely aggressive treatment which would not have been required if a diagnosis was made on time
  • Exposing patients to needless procedures like chemotherapy and radiation when it was not needed
  • Unnecessary surgical procedures were undertaken which resulted in disfigurement and scarring
  • An increased probability of complications and death

Takeaways:

All in all, you need to have enough evidence to support your cause. It is also crucial to understand that sometimes a medical diagnosis may just be a genuine mistake due to the nature of the case. However, we strongly recommend you to consult a medical law expert in order to get the right advice for your case. This will help you take the required steps and follow the right direction towards getting justice and compensation for you or your near and dear ones in case a misdiagnosis takes place.

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