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When is a Misdiagnosis Considered Medical Malpractice?

Posted on behalf of Lynch Law Firm on Apr 12, 2017  in Medical Malpractice News

doctor talking to patientA misdiagnosis of a medical condition, illness or injury can have catastrophic consequences for a patient who is forced to go without much-needed medical care because of a medical professional’s negligence.

Unfortunately, a significant number of medical malpractice cases involve misdiagnosis.

However, determining if your misdiagnosis was caused by medical malpractice can be difficult because not all scenarios meet the requirements for a malpractice claim. Our experienced team of medical negligence attorneys can help you determine if you have a case.

Some of the main elements we look for when determining if you have grounds for a malpractice lawsuit include:

What is a Medical Misdiagnosis?

Misdiagnosis can include a variety of situations in which a medical condition, illness or injury is incorrectly diagnosed, including:

  • Delayed diagnosis - This includes situations where a doctor does not immediately identify an illness or injury despite medical evidence showing that the illness or injury exists. Delaying a diagnosis could cause an illness to become much more serious than it would have if it were diagnosed at the appropriate time.
  • Failure to diagnose – If a doctor fails entirely to diagnose the correct condition, a patient will not receive the medical care he or she needs, which could have potentially fatal consequences.
  • Incorrect diagnosis – In some situations, a doctor may diagnose a patient with the wrong condition. This can mean that the patient undergoes treatment for a condition that he or she does not have, while the condition he or she does have goes untreated. Incorrect diagnosis can also occur if a doctor identifies the correct illness but classifies it incorrectly, such as diagnosing a form of cancer at a lower stage than it is.
  • Failure to recognize complications – This includes situations where a patient experiences side effects as a result of a diagnosis or treatment, but the doctor fails to address those complications.
  • Failure to diagnose a related condition – In some situations, one condition can cause other serious conditions. If a doctor fails to recognize this, the patient will not receive the proper medication or treatment needed to address a related condition.

Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions

Some conditions are misdiagnosed more often than others. These include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Celiac disease
  • Lyme disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Lupus
  • Appendicitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Depression

Proving a Medical Malpractice Claim for Misdiagnosis

It is important to note, however, that just because a doctor did not diagnose you correctly does not mean you have a medical malpractice case. Even experienced doctors can make errors without being negligent.

To have a valid medical malpractice claim for misdiagnosis, the four elements of negligence must be present.

  • There was a doctor-patient relationship – This means the medical professional accepted responsibility for your care by agreeing to see you and prescribe treatment.
  • The doctor was negligent – This means he or she did not provide care that was reasonable and prudent based on his or her level of training and skill. If he or she acted differently than others with similar training would have in the same situation, it is likely that he or she may have been negligent.
  • The doctor’s negligence caused your injuries – To have a valid claim, your injuries must have been directly cause by the medical professional’s negligence.
  • You suffered damages – Compensation will only be provided in a malpractice case if it can be shown that you suffered damages as a result of your injuries. This can include additional medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other types of economic and noneconomic damages.

Determining Negligence

When determining if a physician acted negligently when diagnosing your condition, our attorneys will evaluate whether he or she took reasonable steps to attempt to diagnosis you. We will work to answer the following questions:

  • Did the doctor perform certain tests that would be appropriate in your situation?
  • Did the doctor ignore your concerns or disregard your opinion?
  • Did the doctor overlook a specific diagnosis that another doctor of the same training and skill would not have?

Some of the most common negligent actions that could lead to malpractice include:

  • Failing to order medical tests in a timely manner
  • Ordering the incorrect medical tests
  • Misreading medical tests or lab results
  • Not listening to a patient’s description of his or her symptoms
  • Failing to examine a patient’s medical history

Situations that would not be considered malpractice include:

  • Errors resulting from faulty equipment
  • A patient concealing critical information about his or her health

New Jersey Attorneys Experienced with Misdiagnosis Cases

If you believe you have experienced a misdiagnosis because of a medical professional’s negligence, you should speak with a skilled medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. You have only two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit.

Our team can help you determine if you have a viable claim for misdiagnosis. If you do, we will work tirelessly on your behalf to help you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve.

Schedule a free consultation today for more information. Call (800) 518-0508 .

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