Can You Sue a Doctor for Misdiagnosis?

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If you have been misdiagnosed by your doctor, the implications that follow can be painful, expensive, and in some instances, irreversible. Working with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer is the best way to navigate your path forward. Depending on your case, you may be entitled to damages for your pain and suffering. 

It’s important to understand what constitutes a medical misdiagnosis, how it falls under the umbrella of medical malpractice, and what your options are. Read on to learn more about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit and what to do if you’ve suffered from a wrong diagnosis.

What Is a Medical Misdiagnosis?

A medical misdiagnosis is one of the many prongs that make up the category of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice refers to any criminal or negligent behavior that takes place in the healthcare setting. Medical malpractice can be both intentional and accidental, but it will typically lead to injury or illness.

There are many types of medical malpractice lawsuits, and medical misdiagnoses suits are more common than you may think. A medical misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional, usually a doctor, violates the standard level of care. As part of this violation, a patient can be improperly diagnosed or receive a delayed diagnosis. 

In many cases, this improper diagnosis leads to unnecessary treatment, ineffective treatment, harm, and even death. A delayed diagnosis may result in unnecessary injury or harm as well. 

Patients may suffer in the following ways after a medical misdiagnosis:

  • Worsening of a medical condition
  • Delayed treatments
  • A wrongful death

Can You Sue a Doctor for a Misdiagnosis?

In some cases, suing a doctor for a medical misdiagnosis is possible if they were negligent. Negligence takes on many forms and typically consists of a doctor failing to provide adequate care that enables patients to make an informed decision about their health. Negligence can take on many forms and can include the following:

  • Failure to thoroughly conduct a clinical examination on a patient.
  • Failure to collect necessary medical history and other data pertinent to a patient and their symptoms.
  • Failure to refer a patient to a specialist or other medical professionals for a second opinion.
  • Inadequate readings of medical test imaging such as CT scans, MRIs, x-rays, etc. 

A medical misdiagnosis can take on different forms and have different implications. Here are some common misdiagnosis claims that a patient may experience.

Misdiagnosis and Improper Medical Care

Receiving a misdiagnosis because of a doctor’s negligence may cause you to receive improper medical care. This improper medical care can take on many forms. For example, you might receive medical care that is inadequate because it’s not treating your actual ailment. 

Improper medical care might also do more harm than good because it could cause injury. Take, for example, a misdiagnosis that requires you to take certain medications. If your body doesn’t actually need this medication, you may be unknowingly harming yourself under the direction of a doctor. 

Delayed Diagnoses 

A medical misdiagnosis can result in a treatment plan that does not treat your actual ailment. For some patients, by the time they receive a correct diagnosis, they may have already suffered unnecessary harm or further injury because their ailments have gone untreated. 

In some cases, delayed diagnosis can cause irreparable injury and even death. According to a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, one-third of medical misdiagnoses result in serious injury or death. This often occurs in patients who are misdiagnosed when they are suffering from life-threatening medical ailments.

Unnecessary Surgeries 

Unnecessary surgeries are a common result of medical misdiagnosis cases as well. For example, if a patient is complaining of abdominal pain and is misdiagnosed as having appendicitis, a doctor may recommend surgery. 

The unnecessary surgery could lead a patient to suffer other harm or undergo unnecessary pain, suffering, or medical costs. Often, cases where surgery is administered but not warranted are the result of a doctor failing to properly analyze symptoms a patient may be experiencing in the first place.

In extreme cases, undergoing unnecessary medical treatments like surgery can cause short and long-term damage. This damage can be in the form of pain and suffering or medical bills for an unnecessary procedure. These damages will all come into play during a medical misdiagnosis lawsuit. 

Can You Sue a Hospital for Misdiagnosis and Other Liable Parties 

When you’re filing a medical misdiagnosis lawsuit, you may be able to include additional liable parties. Depending on your case, where the medical misdiagnosis occurred, and the circumstances of the misdiagnosis, other responsible parties may be held accountable. 

These other parties can include nurses, other doctors, and the medical facility where you were treated. To prove that these parties are liable, however, you have to show that they contributed to the misdiagnosis that ultimately led you to your injury or harm.

Are Medical Misdiagnosis Lawsuits Common?

Medical misdiagnosis claims are widely common, simply because of how difficult it can be for a patient to be properly diagnosed. Medical misdiagnosis can occur because an illness takes on the form of another illness, making it difficult for doctors to discern what the ailment is. This will typically happen because of a doctor’s or facility’s negligence in providing adequate care.

In other cases, the failure of a doctor or facility to administer proper imaging and testing can lead to a misdiagnosis. The administration of unnecessary and invasive treatments are other claims that typically make up medical misdiagnosis lawsuits. 

How to Prove a Misdiagnosis

When a patient is considering filing a medical misdiagnosis lawsuit, the burden of proof lies with the patient, as they need to support their claim. If you are wondering how to sue a doctor for pain and suffering, there are standards that need to be met first. 

Any medical malpractice lawsuit will need to meet these four prongs to be successful: 

  • Duty – This is the ability to show that you and your doctor had a doctor-patient relationship, as this establishes your doctor’s obligation and duty of care for you as their patient.
  • Infringement of Duty –  This is the establishment that your doctor failed to provide an adequate level of care which in turn resulted in your misdiagnosis and subsequent injury. Typically, this is proven by showing that another doctor with the same level of education and experience would not have come to the same conclusion as your doctor. 
  • Harm – This prong establishes the type of harm you suffered due to the misdiagnosis. Harm must be established for a medical malpractice lawsuit to proceed. 
  • Damages – This outlines the harm you suffered due to your diagnosis. Damages can take on the form of pain and suffering, monetary losses, and other compensation. 

Seeking Compensation in a Misdiagnosis Lawsuit 

When filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, a plaintiff can seek general, special, and punitive damages. General and special damages are compensatory damages intended to reward a plaintiff for their economic laws, pain and suffering, and other monetary loss resulting from the misdiagnosis. Punitive damages are designed to punish a defendant for medical malpractice. 

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?

In many states, plaintiffs have two years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you’ve suffered a misdiagnosis that has caused you harm, pain, and suffering, and you feel you’re entitled to damages, it’s essential to act fast. 

Reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer to learn your options for moving forward with a misdiagnosis lawsuit.

Turn To a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

A medical malpractice lawyer can work with you to navigate your unique circumstances. Depending on the misdiagnosis, the harm you’ve suffered, and the extent of your pain and suffering, you may be entitled to compensation. 

Working with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer is the best way to get the compensation and representation you deserve. Contact Jack Bernstein today to schedule a free consultation. 

Bal, B. S. (2008). An Introduction to Medical Malpractice in the United States – PMC.

Mastroianni, B. (2020). Why Getting Medically Misdiagnosed Is More Common Than You May Think.

Renfrow, J. (2019). 1 in 3 misdiagnoses results in serious injury or death: study | Fierce Healthcare.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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