If you have a medical issue, going to the doctor is standard practice. You trust that your doctor will diagnose your illness and treat you accordingly. But what if you don’t get better after the taking your medicine? Do you have a case for misdiagnosis?
If a physician fails to correctly diagnose a serious illness, you may or may not have a case. It is not always as straight-forward as you may think.
When a physician’s misdiagnosis leads to a wrong treatment or no treatment at all, a patient will not get well, and may even die. Still there may not be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Patients must usually prove three things to sustain a malpractice suit based on a wrong diagnosis:
- a doctor-patient relationship existed
- the doctor did not provide treatment in a timely manner
- the doctor’s negligence caused injury to the patient
Most medical malpractice cases hinge on the last two – was the doctor negligent, and did the negligence cause harm to the patient?
There are several ways in which a doctor or other medical practitioner can make diagnostic mistakes:
- Wrong diagnosis: the doctor treats the wrong illness
- Missed diagnosis: the doctor gives the patient a clean bill of health when in fact there is an illness.
- Delayed diagnosis: a correct diagnosis is eventually made, but after a significant delay.
- Failure to recognize complications: the doctor makes the right diagnosis, but fails to identify complications which change or aggravate the illness or condition.
- Failure to diagnose a related disease: the doctor diagnoses correctly, but fails to diagnose a related disease; and
- Failure to diagnose an unrelated disease: the doctor fails to diagnose a completely unrelated second disease.
It is also necessary to prove the standard of care within the local medical community.
If you have questions about having been misdiagnosed, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.