Medical Malpractice: Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis

By Mark T. Flickinger, JD on April 10, 2019

 

Medical Malpractice

Most medical malpractice cases involved misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. However, diagnostic errors are common in the medical field and medical professionals cannot always be held legally liable. For the case to be medical malpractice, there must be proven negligence and those negligent acts must lead directly to the patient’s harm. You also need to prove that there was a patient-doctor relationship—this part isn’t usually difficult. But proving there has been negligence can be a little more difficult. If a doctor or other medical professional contributed to a patient’s harm or injury due to their negligent actions, they can be vulnerable to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Generally, a person is required to act as any other reasonable person would have in the same situation. With medical malpractice, these cases can lead to a patient suffering further and even result in death. In this case, it may be a wrongful death lawsuit.

Dealing with Negligence

Diagnosis errors are not proof of negligence, but they can be a result of it. Even very experienced and careful doctors make mistakes. By law, doctors are not legally liable for mistakes. However, if there is negligence involved, that’s a different story. You’ll need to prove that the doctors did not act the way any other reasonable, competent medical professional under similar circumstances would act. For example, if the doctor concluded the correct diagnosis but failed to treat the patient, they may be guilty of negligence. In some cases of negligence, it may not the be doctor who acted negligently, but possibly another person involved in the process. For example, if the doctor was given the wrong test results, someone else may be held legally liable.

Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis can be very dangerous. But for a legal case to be considered medical malpractice misdiagnosis, you must be able to prove negligence and that the misdiagnosis led to the patient’s harm or injury. If an illness or injury progressed beyond where it would have otherwise, there may also be a case for delayed diagnosis.

In most cases, misdiagnosis means missing a medical condition. But it can also mean that a patient was diagnosed or even treated for a medical condition they do not have. If a patient is able to prove that there was harm because of the misdiagnosis and that there was negligence involved in their diagnosis, they can be compensated. Sometimes the harm may be because of the stress and anxiety of going through medical treatments.

Delayed Diagnosis

A delayed diagnosis means that a doctor eventually achieved the correct diagnosis but after a significant amount of time. If during that time the condition progressed beyond what it would have otherwise if it had been caught in a more timely manner, there may be a case for delayed diagnosis. In this case, you will also need to prove negligence.

If you have any questions concerning experiences you may have had with medical malpractice, contact us for a free consultation!

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