Diagnostic errors are one of the leading causes of medical malpractice lawsuits in the United States. When a physician’s diagnosis leads to mistreatment, delayed treatment, or death, the patient and their surviving family members suffer greatly. However, diagnostic errors are not automatically medical malpractice claims. Instead, a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis must be a preventable error made through negligence.
What is a Misdiagnosis Error?
Misdiagnosis can lead to serious health issues or even death if the patient is not treated for the illness they actually have. Often patients will undergo unnecessary and expensive treatments, which cause pain and suffering, and the patient’s overall health will continue to decline.
When a misdiagnosis occurs, the physician inaccurately diagnoses the patient’s condition, and the patient will receive medical treatment and care for an illness they do not actually have. In these types of cases, the patient can often seek compensation for the additional harm they may have suffered, the medical costs associated with improper treatment, and the pain and suffering the patient experienced before receiving the right treatment.
Misdiagnosis can often lead to wrongful death lawsuits – especially if the patient was never properly treated for the illness they actually had. For example, a woman complains of heartburn-like symptoms. The physician fails to perform any necessary tests (such as blood work or an endoscopy), instead simply prescribing antacids despite the patient’s constant complaints that the medication is not working. A few months later, the patient passes away and during autopsy it is discovered the patient had gastrointestinal cancer. Because the doctor negligently failed to perform necessary tests, and the patient suffered due to his misdiagnosis, the surviving family members have a valid wrongful death claim.
What is a Delayed Diagnosis Error?
Delayed diagnosis occurs when the physician eventually finds the correct diagnosis, but in the interim, the patient is subjected to unnecessary treatment (or improper treatment), pain, suffering, and medical costs. In these cases, most patients are unaware they may have grounds for a lawsuit because their doctor eventually discovers the right diagnosis.
Any delay in diagnosis can be detrimental to the patient’s overall health and even lead to death. For example, using the same patient example as above, the physician eventually discovers and diagnoses the patient with cancer. However, by the time the cancer is discovered, it has spread, leaving the patient to endure longer, costlier, and more painful treatment than if the cancer was discovered months earlier.
A diagnostic error is not always medical malpractice. Instead, a victim must prove that the doctor was legally responsible for that diagnostic error by:
- Proving there was a doctor/patient relationship,
- proving the physician was negligent, and
- proving the physician’s negligence and failure to act appropriately led to injury or death to the patient.
Do You Have a Delayed or Misdiagnosis Case? Contact Statesman Law Group
If you or a loved one is the victim of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis error, contact Statesman Law Group today. Call us at (1-800) USA-3500 for a free case review or fill out an online contact form now.