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Determining Whether Misdiagnosis May Be Medical Malpractice

Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Jun 18, 2018 in Medical Malpractice

talking about a diagnosisOne of the most common forms of medical malpractice is misdiagnosis of an illness. This occurs when a health care professional misdiagnoses a patient with the wrong illness or fails to make any diagnosis.

When this happens, patients do not receive vital medical treatment, allowing their condition to worsen. In some cases, a medical condition that has been misdiagnosed can worsen to the point where it is untreatable. This can happen when doctors fail to diagnose the patient or diagnose him or her with the wrong illness.

When patients are diagnosed with the wrong illness and treated based on that incorrect diagnosis, they are at risk for side effects from that treatment.

If you believe that a misdiagnosis caused you to suffer an injury, contact an experienced Silver Spring medical malpractice attorney from Goldberg Finnegan. Our seasoned lawyers can help determine if a health care provider’s negligence rises to the level of malpractice.

There are four elements that must be present to prove misdiagnosis is medical malpractice:

1. There Was a Doctor-Patient Relationship

A doctor-patient relationship is established when a health care provider agrees to diagnose your illness or provides you medical treatment. It is usually not difficult to prove a doctor-patient relationship because there will likely be extensive medical records related to the patient’s care.

2. Your Doctor's Conduct Did Not Meet the Standard of Care

Once a doctor-patient relationship is established, the doctor is expected to provide treatment that satisfies the standard of care for the situation.

In other words, your doctor needs to provide treatment that is similar to what would be provided by another similarly-trained doctor in a similar situation. If a health care provider does not fulfill the standard of care, he or she could potentially be held liable for any injuries and damages that result.

Some examples of failing to meet the standard of care include:

  • Failing to properly communicate with a patient about his or her medical history or symptoms
  • Misinterpreting lab results
  • Making medication errors
  • Not administering diagnostic tests correctly
  • Failing to investigate the cause of a patient’s symptoms
  • Failing to screen the patient for certain medical conditions

Differential Diagnosis

Differential diagnosis is a systematic method that health care providers use to properly identify a patient’s condition.

When the health care provider first evaluates the patient, he or she makes a list of potential diagnoses based on the patient’s symptoms, ranking them in order of probability. The health care provider may conduct further activity to try to accurately diagnose the patient such as:

  • Asking more questions about the patient’s symptoms
  • Making further medical observations of the patient
  • Reviewing the patient’s medical history
  • Ordering tests
  • Referring the patient to specialists

The health care provider rules out potential diagnoses as this evaluation continues. Eventually, the health care provider rules out all potential diagnoses, except the one he or she thinks the patient is suffering from.

Misdiagnosis is often the result of the health care provider’s decisions when going through the process of differential diagnosis. For example, a doctor may have failed to include the correct diagnosis on the list of possible diagnoses. A doctor may have also failed to correctly evaluate the patient or taken other reasonable steps to determine the correct diagnosis.

3. The Doctor's Negligence Caused You Harm

Diagnostic errors can have a disastrous effect on a patient’s health, causing severe pain and suffering and possibly death. When a person is misdiagnosed, necessary treatment can be delayed. A disease that may have greater odds of survival may not be discovered until later stages when the mortality rates are higher.

Additionally, a person who is misdiagnosed may receive treatment that is not appropriate for his or her actual condition. He or she may be prescribed medication or treatment that is risky or dangerous and potentially make the underlying medical issue worse.

If you can prove your injury was a direct result of the doctor's negligence, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

4. You Suffered Damages

The final element of a medical malpractice claim is that you suffered damages as a result of the misdiagnosis. For example, you may have suffered financial losses because you were unable to work. You may also have to undergo expensive, long-lasting medical treatment.

Your attorney can help you compile medical documentation, employment records and other evidence of the damages you suffered because of misdiagnosis.  

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you were injured because of misdiagnosis, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney at Goldberg Finnegan.

Medical malpractice claims are often complex. We can conduct a thorough investigation to determine how a health care provider may have deviated from the standard of care and caused you to suffer an injury.

We can review your claim with no obligation to hire our firm. If we accept your claim, we will work on a contingency basis, so you only have to pay us if we recover compensation on your behalf.

Contact our firm today by calling (888) 213-8140.

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