We all know that people aren’t perfect. Human error is a part of our everyday lives. But when medical professionals make errors, like when a doctor fails to correctly diagnose a medical condition, it can have serious and devastating consequences, even potentially leading to their patient’s death. Victims of medical negligence are often able to file a claim for malpractice, but can a patient sue a doctor for misdiagnosis?
While it may be difficult, victims of misdiagnosis can in fact file a claim for compensation against the negligent healthcare professional who caused their injuries. If you or a loved one received an incorrect diagnosis from a medical professional and suffered injuries or wrongful death as a result, you should contact a medical malpractice firm to handle your case. Luckily, the Cleveland medical malpractice lawyers at Joseph Law Group are here to help. Call us at (216) 522-1600 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Ohio medical negligence experts today.
What are the Consequences of a Misdiagnosis?
Medical misdiagnosis, or failure to diagnose a medical condition, can lead to a variety of issues, some of which can be fatal. Things like unnecessary treatment can worsen a patient’s condition as well as saddle them with additional medical bills. While it may be rare, a doctor’s failure to diagnose a patient can cause a patient to go completely untreated, which may result in wrongful death.
Doctor-Patient Relationship and Medical Duty
In a legal sense, a doctor-patient relationship is established when a patient seeks treatment, and a doctor agrees to treat them. From there, the doctor owes that patient a “duty of care,” which is an obligation to provide them with reasonable medical care. When doctors fail to uphold this duty of care, they can be found liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Legal Elements of Medical Malpractice in Misdiagnosis Cases
In order to make a valid medical malpractice claim, there have to be certain elements of negligence present in order for the doctor to be found liable. These elements include a duty of care, a breach of duty of care, causation that links the breach to injuries, and damages from the injuries. So, if a doctor misdiagnosed a patient’s condition but it did not harm them in any way, the patient may not be able to recover compensation.
How Negligence, Breach of Duty, and Harm Are Established
In medical malpractice cases, negligence or breach of duty can be established by using the reasonable person standard. This standard creates a baseline for what a reasonably competent doctor in their field would know, what they would be capable of, and what they would be expected to do in a given situation.
In a medical misdiagnosis case, this can be done by consulting an expert witness, who would most likely be a doctor in the same position as the one accused of negligence. If the expert would have reasonably diagnosed the patient with the correct condition given the same circumstances, then it would most likely be decided that the original doctor failed to uphold their duty of care to their patient, making them negligent.
Harm is established by evaluating if the patient suffered from physical pain or emotional distress as a direct result of the treatment they received. This can be caused by things like side effects from an incorrect dosage of medication, pain and suffering from an unnecessary surgical procedure, and additional health complications from a lack of proper treatment.
If a doctor diagnosed you with the wrong condition, or a doctor failed to diagnose you when they should have, call an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at Joseph Law Group. We’ll examine the circumstances surrounding your injuries and help determine whether or not you have a valid claim. Call us at (216) 522-1600 to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team today.
Different Types of Misdiagnosis
A medical misdiagnosis can come in the form of a wrong diagnosis or a delayed diagnosis. Both forms of misdiagnosis can have severe consequences, so it’s crucial that victims of misdiagnosis take legal action against negligent medical professionals and hold them responsible for their actions.
A misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor or other healthcare provider fails to give a patient the correct diagnosis, and actually diagnoses them with something they do not have. For example, if someone comes to the emergency room complaining of severe stomach pain, and the doctor diagnoses them with appendicitis, they may receive medical treatment for appendicitis.
However, if it turns out that the patient’s appendix was fine and they instead had a swollen lymph node that was causing their pain, the patient will have received the wrong treatment. Not only that, but they will have also suffered from a lack of correct treatment, which they could have received immediately if they had received the correct diagnosis in the first place.
Failure to diagnose a medical condition can appear in a variety of ways, including diagnostic errors, inconclusive test results, or a doctor’s negligence. If a doctor or other medical professional fails to order the correct tests given the patient’s symptoms, fails to correctly interpret test results or symptoms, or dismisses their symptoms entirely, they will most likely fail to give a correct diagnosis.
A missed diagnosis can cause the patient to suffer from physical pain, emotional distress, or worsening health complications as a result. Additionally, they may be attending doctor’s appointments for an extended period of time, since their condition is just not being treated. This can cause a patient to rack up expenses from medical bills or copays for an untreated condition that is likely getting worse.
How a Cleveland Medical Malpractice Lawyer from Joseph Law Group Can Help
If your doctor owed you a duty of care and that doctor failed to provide you with the minimum standard of medical care, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim and recover financial compensation. However, pursuing compensation for a medical misdiagnosis can be difficult, and proving negligence can be nearly impossible without the help of an experienced personal injury law firm.
The Cleveland personal injury attorneys at Joseph Law Group will help determine fault in your case and help you file a medical misdiagnosis lawsuit. They will also be able to help collect evidence, gather expert witnesses, prove fault and causation, and help you receive the compensation you deserve. Schedule your free consultation by calling (216) 522-1600 today.
Collecting Evidence: Gathering Medical Records, Expert Opinions, and Testimonies
In order to sue a doctor for misdiagnosis, there has to be proof that the doctor breached their duty of care to their patient and caused harm. This is usually done by gathering and examining medical records, the patient’s medical history, and any reports of the patient’s medical condition. Additionally, if the doctor prescribed any medications or ordered any procedures, those will also be examined and likely presented in court.
Medical malpractice attorneys will know how to gather this information as well as acquire witnesses and experts who can testify in a misdiagnosis lawsuit. This evidence will help prove that the patient’s medical care provider was, in fact, negligent.
Demonstrating How the Doctor’s Actions Deviated from Standard Medical Practice
In order to prove misdiagnosis, the attorney will evaluate the evidence and then compare what the supposedly negligent person did to what a reasonable healthcare provider would have done in the same or similar circumstances. They can establish this by calling in an expert witness to testify on the standard practices in the medical professional’s field and position.
Lawyers with experience handling medical misdiagnosis cases will be able to find other doctors and nurses in a given field and have them testify in court. This can help establish that a reasonable doctor would have given them a different diagnosis, which can prove that the previous doctor was negligent when they gave their patient the wrong diagnosis.
Proving Causation and Harm
After proving negligence in this kind of medical malpractice case, lawyers then have to prove that the incorrect diagnosis or delayed diagnosis directly caused the patient harm. This can require them to make links between the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis and any physical or emotional harm the patient suffered as a result.
For example, if a patient comes in with a severe headache and a doctor dismisses their symptoms, that patient could be suffering from a severe health condition and will have not received treatment. If the patient was dealing with something like a stroke, they could suffer from serious brain injuries or even death.
Lawyers will be able to make the link between the doctor’s breach of duty and the patient’s injuries. In some cases, it can be fairly apparent that the doctor’s action or inaction was the direct cause of the injuries, but in others, proving causation can be difficult. That’s why it’s so important for victims of medical malpractice to seek expert legal counsel as soon as possible.
Seeking Compensation: Recovering Damages for Medical Expenses, Pain, and Suffering
After proving negligence and establishing causation, medical misdiagnosis attorneys will help patients receive compensation for their losses. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, victims can recover compensation for things like:
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of earning potential;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress; and
- Funeral expenses, in the event of a wrongful death.
Seeking Justice for Medical Malpractice Patients: Holding Doctors Liable for Misdiagnosis
If you were harmed by a doctor’s misdiagnosis, you may be able to file a claim for medical negligence and receive compensation for your injuries. Our team at Joseph Law Group can help you understand your rights as an injured patient, provide you with legal counsel, and help you file a lawsuit so that you can seek justice. Call (216) 522-1600 or contact us online and schedule an appointment with a Cleveland medical malpractice attorney from Joseph Law Group today.