Doctors use a wide range of tests and equipment to diagnose their patients’ ailments. When you visit the doctor, you trust that they have the knowledge and expertise necessary to identify the cause of your discomfort and prescribe appropriate treatment. If your doctor misdiagnoses your condition, you may endure numerous difficulties.
Misdiagnosing an illness or injury is the most common form of medical malpractice and is the basis for many medical malpractice lawsuits. A wrong diagnosis alone is not necessarily medical malpractice and not all doctors’ misdiagnoses are grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Even a highly skilled and competent doctor can fail to give you a correct diagnosis.
When attempting to prove a medical malpractice claim, you must show that a medical professional failed to uphold the standard of care in your particular situation and that another doctor with similar training would have likely reached a different diagnosis. That is why, if you have been wrongly diagnosed and want to seek compensation for your injuries through a misdiagnosis lawsuit, you must speak with a medical malpractice lawyer in a timely manner.
How Common is Misdiagnosis?
A recent study of outpatient diagnostic errors in the U.S. indicates that misdiagnosis is a serious medical error that affects approximately 12 million people in the United States every year. In other words, one in 20 adults receives incorrect diagnoses annually.
Misdiagnosis accounted for 5.08 percent of all outpatient hospital visits. In addition, a 25-year summary of U.S. malpractice claims shows that diagnostic errors are the most common medical error to affect patients. Misdiagnosis is the most dangerous and most expensive of all medical errors, with half of the recorded misdiagnosis cases resulting in death.
With stakes this high, the severity of misdiagnosis cases should be evident. If a medical professional incorrectly diagnosed you or a loved one, you might be able to seek compensation for your losses related to the faulty diagnosis. Contact a medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your options.
Misdiagnosis Due to Doctor Negligence
One of a doctor’s primary responsibilities is to diagnose a patient’s condition to determine how to treat or cure them. Doctors use a wide range of diagnostic procedures, depending on the illness or injury, to provide a correct diagnosis and determine the proper treatment.
Diagnostic imaging equipment such as X-rays, C.T. scans, ultrasounds, and MRIs visually depict conditions. Doctors may also use laboratory tests to analyze levels of substances, chemicals, enzymes, and other indicators in the patient’s blood or bodily fluids. Cancer diagnoses often require biopsies, in which pathologists analyze the patient’s blood or tissue for abnormal cells.
Doctors use these diagnostic techniques to identify the patient’s injury, illness, or condition. Unfortunately, doctors do not always correctly apply their knowledge and diagnostic tools to determine the cause of the patient’s ailment, resulting in high misdiagnosis rates. These errors can occur at any point during a patient’s treatment.
When Does Misdiagnosis Occur?
Misdiagnosis can occur at any point in the doctor-patient relationship, from initial discussions and testing through treatment and follow-up.
When you go to the doctor for your first visit, they should pay attention to your symptoms, ask pertinent questions, and follow up with appropriate testing. Whether you are in the office for a regular check-up or to address a specific issue, your doctor must attentively address your concerns and seek answers to any unusual or concerning symptoms. Doing so may involve analyzing your symptoms, asking about your lifestyle, gathering a medical history, and ordering diagnostic tests.
Diagnostic Tests and Screening
Doctors examine their patients for signs of illness or injury. If there is an issue, they may request diagnostic testing such as imaging, scanning, or blood tests to diagnose the problem accurately. A negligent doctor may not pay attention to the patient or misattribute symptoms to unrelated causes, such as smoking, drinking, or obesity. A doctor may also fail to request the proper tests to address symptoms, resulting in misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
Test Result Analysis
A doctor can still misdiagnose a patient even if they request the correct tests. Doctors who rush or are inattentive may misread results, misinterpret the findings, make a diagnostic error, or even look at the wrong patient’s file. Doing so can lead to misdiagnosis, resulting in delayed treatment, incorrect medication prescription, or worsening symptoms.
Your doctor may prescribe treatment like medication, activities, or lifestyle changes depending on your condition. Early diagnosis can mean the difference between successful and failed treatment in many cases. When doctors misdiagnose patients, they may treat them for the wrong illness or decide not to treat them. Some diseases like diabetes, cancer, and other life-threatening conditions may end the patient’s life if left untreated or if treatment is delayed.
Discussion and Follow-up
Following a diagnosis, your doctor should educate you regarding your condition and discuss your treatment options. This discussion helps you understand how to make decisions to preserve or improve your health. If your doctor fails to communicate your diagnosis or condition, you may proceed under the assumption that you have another disease or no disorder at all. This misdiagnosis can easily lead to worse symptoms, illness, and death.
Misdiagnosis or a Delayed Diagnosis Can Cause Significant Harm
While misdiagnosis is serious under any circumstances, a medical malpractice lawsuit must prove that the misdiagnosis caused you harm. The harm caused by a misdiagnosis can take many forms and may include:
Snowballing Symptoms and Unnecessary Treatment
If your doctor misdiagnoses your condition, your symptoms may worsen if the disease is progressive and you do not receive appropriate or timely treatment. If they diagnose the wrong illness, you may also receive treatments you don’t need, including medication and therapy that can cause organ injury, strokes, heart attacks, and other life-threatening damage. For example, if you are incorrectly diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe blood pressure medication that dangerously lowers your blood pressure.
In some cases, doctors may perform unnecessary surgery on a patient due to a misdiagnosis. Surgical errors cause the patient undue pain and suffering and result in lasting health issues. In addition, recovering from unnecessary surgery could delay treatment or surgery for the patient’s actual condition.
Delayed diagnoses can create significant issues for a patient. Doctors who fail to diagnose cancer in the early stages, for example, must often treat advanced cancer with a more severe treatment regimen, such as aggressive chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery that would not have been necessary if they had diagnosed cancer correctly. The patient faces more invasive procedures and lower quality of life during treatment, and they are more likely to die from the delayed diagnosis and resulting treatment.
From treatment delays to medication errors, every aspect of misdiagnosis can ultimately lead to patient death. If your loved one received incorrect treatment, wrong medication, unnecessary surgery, or experienced delayed treatment due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose that resulted in their death, contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
Commonly Misdiagnosed Illnesses and Conditions
Since many factors can cause misdiagnosis, medical professionals easily misdiagnose illnesses and conditions with similar symptoms. Doctors and specialists should be aware of the potential for mimicry, but incorrect testing and inattention sometimes cause doctors to overlook the defining characteristics of an illness and misdiagnose another.
Common conditions that doctors misdiagnose include:
- Celiac disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
If your healthcare provider gave you the wrong diagnosis for any of the above conditions, you may be able to seek compensation for harm caused by the wrong diagnosis. Contact a medical malpractice lawyer with experience in medical misdiagnosis to discuss your next steps.
What to Do if Healthcare Professionals Give You the Wrong Diagnosis?
If you believe that healthcare providers have misdiagnosed you or a loved one, you may be able to seek compensation for medical malpractice.
Follow these steps to protect your right to compensation for your losses:
- Seek a Second Opinion: In a medical misdiagnosis, you may seek a second opinion from another doctor or follow up with the doctor who gave you the wrong diagnosis. If you visit your original doctor, do not accuse them of malpractice, as this can make it challenging to obtain the documents you need.
- Request Medical Records: As soon as possible, request a full copy of your medical records about the misdiagnosed illness or injury, including any documentation for preexisting conditions that may have affected your misdiagnosis.
- Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney: In Illinois, you must submit your claim within two years of the date of the misdiagnosis. Therefore, you must contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible after you learn of the misdiagnosis. If you believe that healthcare providers have misdiagnosed you or a loved one, you may be able to seek compensation for medical malpractice.
A lawyer with knowledge of local medical malpractice laws will understand medical procedures, laws governing medical practice, and negotiation tactics used by medical practitioners, their insurance companies, and their legal counsel.
Damages You Can Claim for Misdiagnosis
Since every medical misdiagnosis claim is different, each claim’s value differs.
Common damages you can claim for medical malpractice due to misdiagnosis include:
- Existing and future medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Vocational training and career change costs
- Long-term and in-home medical treatment
- Medication, therapy, and rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of companionship
- Wrongful death
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
Misdiagnosis is a significant cause of injury and death for patients across the U.S. Incorrect diagnoses claim the lives of thousands of patients every year, and those who survive often experience devastating long-term effects. To protect your right to fair compensation for damages due to malpractice, partner with a medical malpractice lawyer who has experience working with malpractice cases.
A knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer will help you compile the necessary documentation and evidence to prove that your doctor’s misdiagnosis harmed you. They will obtain witness testimony from medical professionals and economic experts to establish the value of your claim and aggressively negotiate on your behalf for a fair settlement. If negotiations fail, a medical malpractice lawyer can represent your case in court to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Discuss Your Options
You rely on your doctors to give an accurate and timely diagnosis of your medical condition. A correct diagnosis is key to timely and effective treatment. If your doctor failed to properly diagnose your medical condition or gave you an incorrect diagnosis, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
An experienced personal injury attorney can review your case to determine the level of your doctor’s negligence and if you have a valid medical malpractice claim and grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Don’t wait to get legal help after a misdiagnosis. Contact Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys today for a free consultation or call us at (312) 726-1616 and learn how our malpractice lawyers can help you with your medical malpractice case.