One of the questions out there is Can you sue a doctor for wrong diagnosis?
It is possible for a patient to pursue a legal remedy in the event that a doctor makes a wrong diagnosis or fails to make a diagnosis of a harmful medical condition on time?
This can simply be done by filling a medical malpractice lawsuit against such a doctor.
However, what constitutes medical negligence according to the law should be known because mistakes and negative outcomes can sometimes not mean medical negligence has occurred.
In order to identify this, there are some questions that need to be asked. These questions will help to ascertain if the health care provider has actually violated any known medical care standard in the case under review.
Some questions to ask are, would a doctor in the same locality and who have received similar training as the one accused of error identify the health problem quicker?
It is our mission in this subsequent section to explain in clear term some of the common scenarios of misdiagnosis and the procedures to follow when initiating a medical malpractice?
Common Types of Misdiagnosis
There are several diseases and other health related issues. Therefore, this has led the tendency for misdiagnosis to be high as well.
Below is the presentation of some common types of misdiagnosis:
- Asthma can always be misdiagnosed as a recurring bronchitis.
- Cancer, when misdiagnosed can lead the patient to receive painfully excruciating and unwarranted treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation.
- Heart attack can be wrongly taken for indigestion, panic attack etc.
- Lymph node inflammation can sometimes be mistaken for appendicitis
- Staph infection can be mistaken as common flu.
- Stroke can be underplayed especially in younger people as migraine or as other trivia issue
Basically, what connotes a misdiagnosis case can either be a case of mismanaged diagnostic testing or delayed diagnosis.
See below some cases of misdiagnosis:
- Inability to examine patient for a certain medical condition
- Inability to refer affected patient to appropriate specialist hospital
- Wrong interpretation of laboratory test results
- Inability to communicate well with patient regarding his or her symptoms
- Inability to do a proper follow up and ascertain the causes of a patient’s reported symptoms.
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Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for Misdiagnosis
To file a lawsuit in cases of misdiagnosis, the step is as the same as in the case of any medical malpractice cases.
However, the plaintiff must be able to give some proofs regarding the doctor that, he fell short in his diagnosis and any doctor of his similar training and experience would have performed better in the case under review.
The plaintiff must also get a qualified medical expert to testify to the treatment given; that the accused doctor gave a wrong treatment instead of the right one.
In addition to this, he/she should also be able to prove that the harm experienced by the patient was because of the doctor’s inappropriate treatment.
Who Can Be Sued?
Basically, the person that can be sued for misdiagnosis is only your primary physician (doctor). However, it is in rare cases that other health care professionals who have attended to the patient can be sued, and that is if they contributed to the harm experienced by the patient.
Such health care professionals include nurses, lab attendants, other specialists etc.
However, since the doctor in question is the only one that can be sued, that means his hospital or facility wherein he practices cannot be affected by any litigation.
This is because most of the doctors are not permanent employees of such hospital or facility, but they are only contracted employees.
As such, neither the hospital nor facility where the doctor practices can be accountable for any error from the doctor.
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Showing Harm to the Patient
To prove right a medical malpractice case, a plaintiff has to prove beyond the fact the doctor erred in making the right diagnosis.
He/she must also be able to prove that the doctor’s erroneous diagnosis resulted to the harm experienced by the patient.
A patient may experience harm resulting from wrong or delayed diagnosis in several ways. Some of them are highlighted below:
- Patient may be required to undergo unnecessary tough treatment that can be averted in the presence of a right and early diagnosis of the disease or medical condition.
- Unnecessary exposure of patient to tough and harsh treatment procedures like radiation or chemotherapy
- Carrying out unwarranted surgery on the patient, especially when it can disfigure the patient or leave he/she with scars.
- Exposing patient to high risk complication
- Exposing patient to the risk of dying
Watch the Statute of Limitations in a Misdiagnosis Case
You should me mindful that there is time limitation to any medical malpractice case to be challenged in the court of law.
The state laws (statutes), otherwise known as statutes of limitation, set this limitation by stating a certain period within which the law suit can be initiated.
For a start, the initial document (the complaint) would be filled within some specified period after suffering the harm that warranted the lawsuit.
In some places, the statute of limitations clock depends on some factors to start counting. In some cases, it starts counting after patient has discover, or has the opportunity to discover the injury.
In California for instance, three years is the period within which a victim may file a medical malpractice lawsuit after the occurrence of the harm, or one year after the discovery of the harm or one year after the harm ought to have been discovered.
What is considered firstly in the case outlined above is the first sequence to occur. So, can you sue a doctor for wrong diagnosis? Let’s have your comments in the box provided below.