Misdiagnosis and the Law

If a physician fails to properly diagnose a medical condition, do you have a legal case against that doctor? You trust that your doctor will diagnose your illness and treat you accordingly.  But what if you don’t get better after taking your medicine? Or worse, what if there is a death involved?

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, generally, must 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 and which will be considered in filing a lawsuit:

  • 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 legal questions about a misdiagnosis, call our office.  We always offer a free consultation.

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