If you or a loved one has suffered health complications because of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, your family may be struggling with several difficult questions:
- Is my doctor at fault for a diagnosis error?
- Should we consider a medical malpractice lawsuit?
- How can a lawsuit help?
- When should I talk to a lawyer?
Our Philadelphia area medical malpractice lawyers can help you understand your legal options.
Our medical malpractice lawyers help victims of medical negligence get support after suffering preventable health complications.
When we visit a doctor or hospital while experiencing health problems, we all trust that the professionals who see us will make the correct diagnosis, order the correct treatment, and provide the highest quality of care possible. Unfortunately, sometimes medical professionals make diagnostic errors which can have devastating consequences for their patients.
Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are some of the most common forms of medical malpractice. A 2015 study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that most Americans will suffer from at least one wrong or delayed medical diagnosis during their lifetime – with 12 million diagnostic errors occurring each year. These errors are the leading category of paid medical malpractice claims and twice as likely to result in patient deaths than other claims.
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Misdiagnosis errors occur when a doctor misinterprets or fails to recognize symptoms of a particular illness or attributes these symptoms to the wrong illness. This means that a serious illness could go untreated or the wrong medication and treatment could be prescribed.
Taking medications or undergoing medical treatments for the wrong illness can have serious health consequences for the patient. This also means that the actual illness could become worse as it goes untreated. In some cases, the patient may even die because of a misdiagnosis.
Some common forms of medical negligence that can lead to a misdiagnosis include:
- Failure to order the correct medical tests
- Failure to follow up on medical tests
- Misinterpretation of test results
- Incomplete medical exams
- Failure to recognize symptoms or misinterpretation of symptoms
When a serious medical condition is misdiagnosed, the symptoms can easily progress to the point where the condition becomes untreatable. This is common in cancer, heart problems, and infections.
Delayed Diagnosis Errors
Delayed diagnosis errors differ from misdiagnosis errors, as the patient likely would have suffered health complications or death even if they’d never visited the doctor. However, the doctor can still be considered negligent, as they had a legal duty to meet their field’s standard of care while treating the patient. This means it was the doctor’s responsibility to identify the illness and order the appropriate treatment.
In order to have a medical malpractice claim for a delayed diagnosis, you and your malpractice lawyer must establish that the condition was treatable at one point, and became untreatable because the doctor failed to diagnose it in time. This is especially common in cancer cases, as cancer can easily progress and become untreatable if it’s not diagnosed in time.
Establishing Negligence After A Wrong Diagnosis
In order to have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit, you and your lawyer must prove that your healthcare provider was negligent. Establishing medical negligence is about proving three things:
- You and your healthcare provider had a doctor-patient relationship
- Your healthcare provider failed was negligent by failing to meet the medical standard of care
- This failure to meet the standard of care directly resulted in health problems or death
Not every diagnostic error is grounds for a medical malpractice claim. It’s important to establish that you suffered preventable harm because of the error. For example, if it’s determined that your health condition would have occurred even without a diagnostic error, you may not have grounds for a claim. Determining if you have a case will require a careful review of your medical records and other evidence by an experienced medical malpractice lawyer and medical expert.
About Filing A Malpractice Claim For A Diagnostic Error
Medical malpractice claims are some of the most complicated forms of personal injury lawsuits. Health complications involve complex circumstances. In order to build a strong case, you’ll likely need assistance from an experienced Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer who has contacts in the medical community. A doctor who specializes in the same field as your physician can analyze the details of your case, establish a breach of the medical standard of care, and act as an expert witness if your case goes to court.
Our Delaware County medical malpractice lawyers specialize in helping the victims of preventable medical errors. We can help guide you through each aspect of the claims process and represent you in all legal proceedings. To find out more about your legal options as the victim of a diagnosis error, please contact us today for a free consultation.