While many people may assume that medical misdiagnoses are a rare anomaly and don’t affect a majority of the population, these errors are much more common and impactful than that. It is reported that over 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed every year. From that number, it is also estimated that around 40,000-80,000 Americans die from complications with their misdiagnosis every year. Now more than ever, it is essential for misdiagnoses to be treated as seriously as other medical malpractice cases.
What is a Misdiagnosis?
Misdiagnosis is when a medical professional diagnoses a patient with a disease or illness that they do not have. Misdiagnosis’ are fairly common, happening to around 1 in 20 diagnoses’. Doctors tend to have high diagnosis success rates, as testing usually provides them the insight they need to make an accurate diagnosis. However, testing could be inaccurate, disease or illness may go unnoticed or undetected, or a medical professional acting negligent. Some other causes of misdiagnosis include:
- Not screening for a suspected medical condition
- Misinterpreting lab results
- Not consulting with a patient and asking about their symptoms
- Not referring a patient to a specialist
- Not following up with the patient about their symptoms
There are serious dangers to misdiagnosing a patient. Typically, after a diagnosis is presented to a patient, a plan is created by the doctor in order to treat whatever is going wrong. These plans may include medication, invasive therapies, and other practices meant to heal the body. If a patient is misdiagnosed and prescribed a medication, that medication may cause adverse effects in the patient’s body. For example, a patient may come into a clinic and complain of chest and stomach pain. A doctor may do some testing that reveals that the issue may be indigestion. The doctor then prescribes the patient with a medication meant to treat their indigestion, and then the patient has a heart attack.
Many diseases and illnesses may appear similar to others with slight variations alluding to something more severe. A medical professional’s job is to find those variations as soon as they present themselves to avoid severe outcomes like a heart attack.
The Most Common Misdiagnosis’
There are many severe diseases and illnesses that may appear similar to mild diseases. This can cause them to be perceived as being minor and improperly treated. Some of the most common misdiagnosed diseases are:
- Heart Attacks
- Lyme Disease
- Lymph node inflammation
- Staph infection
If you suspect that your symptoms are worse than they are being perceived by a doctor or do not trust the doctor diagnosing you, it may be a good idea to either get a second opinion on the matter or see a specialist. Another doctor may be able to see what the doctor couldn’t and provide you with better answers and solutions to help your situation.
How to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Against a Doctor Who Misdiagnosed You
Suppose you have been misdiagnosed by a medical professional and have sustained injuries because of your diagnosis. In that case, you may want to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who misdiagnosed you. Before going about filing your claim, you will need to take note of your state’s statute of limitations or the amount of time after an injury or accident that the injured party has to file a claim. If you are within the statute of limitations, the next beneficial step for you to take is to hire an attorney. Medical malpractice cases can be incredibly tricky to prove, so hiring an experienced medical malpractice attorney is in your best interest. In order to prove a medical misdiagnosis, your attorney will have to prove that there was a breach of care. Some elements of this include:
- Duty- Here, you must establish a relationship between the doctor and patient. This connection certifies that the medical professional has a duty to help that patient.
- Breach- This certifies that a doctor did not act in the best interest of the patient. This is typically seen with negligent doctors; however, not every misdiagnosis is given by a negligent doctor. To show a breach of duty, you must provide evidence that another competent doctor would have diagnosed the patient differently.
- Causation- You must prove that the misdiagnosis was the direct cause of your injuries or the progression of your illness. If your illness or injuries were not the direct cause of the doctor’s treatment, they could not be used as evidence.
- Damages- Lastly, you must prove that the misdiagnosis caused genuine damage to your life and affected it in a way that could have been prevented with the proper treatment.
It’s not enough to prove that a doctor breached their duty of care. If the breach caused no harm to you, it wouldn’t be suitable evidence to win the case. In order to prove that misdiagnosis was the cause of your injuries, your attorney must prove that your doctor did one or more of the following:
- Exposed you to harmful treatments
- Used an overly aggressive treatment
- Performed an unnecessary surgery on you
- Prescribed a treatment that increased your complications
- Prescribed a treatment that increased your likelihood of death
Medical malpractice lawsuits require a lot of evidence in order to prove. Keep track of medical records, prescriptions, and other important treatment plans that your doctor shared with you. Your attorney will know what evidence you need to provide and will make sure to situate your case in a way that yields the best results for you.
Contact The Eichholz Law Firm
If you have been misdiagnosed by a medical professional and are now suffering from repercussions from your diagnosis, contact the legal professionals at The Eichholz Law Firm. Our medical malpractice attorneys will handle your case with care and fight tirelessly so that you receive adequate compensation for your injuries. You can contact us at 855-551-1019 or fill out a form here for an immediate case evaluation by our legal specialists.