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Misdiagnosis & Delayed Diagnosis

Medical Malpractice Law Firm in Stuart and Port St Lucie

doctors discussing diagnosisThe Law Office of Gloria Seidule was founded in 1998 to represent injury victims. Our mission is to get compensation commensurate to the injury that has occurred. Gloria Seidule (principal) received her law degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1987. Gloria Seidule has over 30 years of experience in personal injury law and has provided millions of dollars of compensation to her clients over her career. Learn more about¬†Gloria’s credentials, affiliations, and achievements.

Medical malpractice¬†lawsuits are common because of¬†misdiagnosis¬†and delayed diagnosis. A doctor’s error in diagnosing a condition can lead to delayed or incorrect treatment, and patients may be left with permanent disabilities. However, a misdiagnosis is not sufficient to bring a medical malpractice suit. Here are four vital factors that must be present to press a misdiagnosis case.

  • ¬†A doctor-patient relationship existed.
  • The doctor was negligent, and that is, he did not provide competent and skillful treatment.
  • The doctor’s negligence caused actual injury.

 

Was the Doctor Negligent?

Neglecting to diagnose a patient correctly or causing a delay in diagnosis is not an indication of negligence. Even though they use reasonable care, skilled doctors can misdiagnose patients. It is essential to determine whether the doctor acted competently. This involves evaluating what the doctor did and didn’t do when arriving at a diagnosis. This involves examining the “differential diagnostic” method that the doctor used to make treatment decisions.

Doctors use differential diagnoses to diagnose a condition or disease in patients. The doctor creates a list of possible diagnoses based on a thorough patient evaluation. The doctor then evaluates the validity of each diagnosis by performing further medical observations, asking questions about the patient’s symptoms, ordering tests, or referring them to specialists. As the investigation continues, the physician will rule out all possible diagnoses, and only one will be left at the end. However, ending with one diagnosis isn’t always possible due to the uncertainty inherent in medicine.

Sometimes, the doctor may discover additional information that will allow them to expand the differential diagnosis list.

The patient must prove a medical malpractice case based on diagnosing the error. This means that you must prove one of the following:

  • The doctor didn’t include the correct diagnosis on his differential diagnosis list. A reasonably skilled and competent doctor in similar circumstances would.
  • Although the doctor listed the correct diagnosis on his differential diagnosis list, he failed to carry out the necessary tests or consult specialists to confirm the validity of the diagnosis.

Diagnostic Test Errors

Sometimes, a doctor may not correctly diagnose a condition due to inaccurate laboratory results, radiology films, or other types. One of two possible causes can be blamed:

  • The diagnostic equipment was defective.
  • Human error can occur, for example, when the samples are contaminated, mixed up, or the technician uses an incorrect procedure. The test results may also be misread or missing from an x-ray slide or pathology slide.

While the doctor may not be held responsible for this type of malpractice, it could be someone else, the technician, who misread the pathology slide. The patient must again prove that the error was caused by negligence.

Was the Misdiagnosis Harmful to the Patient?

The patient must also prove that the doctor misdiagnosed or delayed diagnosing the patient, causing the condition or injury to progress beyond what it would typically have. This will be a problem for treatment. A delayed diagnosis of cancer meant that the patient needed to be treated more aggressively (e.g., chemotherapy) or that cancer had spread beyond the body and was no longer responding to treatment. Even if the condition is still treatable, sometimes a patient can demonstrate harm. In some cases, delayed treatment can increase the chance of recurrence.

 Suppose a doctor diagnoses a patient suffering from a condition or illness they do not know about. In that case, the patient might show harm through anxiety, stress, or expenses incurred due to the unnecessary treatment.

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Doctors and other medical professionals may make diagnostic errors in many ways.

Wrong diagnosis is also known as misdiagnosis. A doctor may diagnose a patient with a stomach problem when they actually had a heart attack. The doctor may also diagnose cancer when the patient is healthy.

Misdiagnosis. A doctor may give a patient a clean bill, but the patient actually has a disease or illness.

Delay in diagnosis. Although the doctor finally makes the correct diagnosis, it is often delayed. One of the most common errors in diagnosis is late diagnosis.

Failure to recognize complications. It is difficult to recognize the signs and symptoms of complications. Although the doctor has made the correct diagnosis, they fail to identify any complications or factors that could change or aggravate the condition.

Failure to diagnose a related disease. A doctor correctly diagnoses one disease but fails to diagnose a related condition. A related disease occurs in conjunction with the primary illness or has a greater chance of occurring in patients with the primary.

Failing to diagnose an unrelated condition. A doctor incorrectly diagnoses one disease but fails to diagnose another.

Misdiagnosis in an Emergency Room

It is not surprising that misdiagnosis rates are higher in emergency rooms. Due to increased time pressure, differential diagnoses are more challenging to find. A missed or incorrect diagnosis can lead to severe injuries and illnesses in the emergency department.

Less common conditions and illnesses are more likely to be missed in an emergency room, and patients with rare diseases are less likely to receive a correct diagnosis. A young woman suffering from gastric distress, which is one symptom of heart attack, is less likely than a middle-aged, overweight man experiencing the same symptoms.

Heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and meningitis are common conditions misdiagnosed at the emergency department. Nearly 100% of infants and children under 12 years old are misdiagnosed with appendicitis. 


Getting Help 

Learn more about medical malpractice by visiting our malpractice website page. If you would like to get your Free consultation and case evaluation, call 772-287-1220 or complete our contact form, and we will contact you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can sue if a doctor misdiagnoses your illness or injury. This is known as “misdiagnosis” in the legal area of medical malpractice. Personal injury law is the umbrella for this area of law. Personal injury cases are civil, not criminal, cases.

If you have a severe and progressive condition and your doctor has misdiagnosed it, you may be eligible for medical misdiagnosis damages. You may be misdiagnosed as delayed diagnosis and incorrect diagnosis.

The Supreme Court ruled that a wrong diagnosis case cannot be equated with medical negligence. It recently upheld the decision by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) to invalidate the State commission’s decision to hold a hospital and doctor guilty of alleged medical negligence.

According to a 2005 study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, autopsy reports reveal that doctors are wrong about a patient’s diagnosis¬†10 to 15 percent of the time. A misdiagnosis can have serious and potentially fatal health repercussions for patients.

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