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What Do I Do If I Was Misdiagnosed?

Medical professionals are some of the most qualified people in our lives. But unfortunately, doctors are only human, and mistakes can happen.

Medical errors and misdiagnoses are common, and only increasing in frequency. Researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine and the Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center estimate that about 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed every year – and a recent study concluded that medical errors are the third most common cause of death in America, accounting for more than 250,000 deaths annually.

False diagnoses have the potential to be deadly for patients – and downright devastating for their family members and loved ones.

Fortunately, if you suffered a misdiagnosis or any similar medical error, the medical professionals in question can be held legally responsible for medical malpractice – and you may be entitled to due compensation for the damages.

How do I prove Medical Malpractice?

The crux of a medical malpractice lawsuit falls on two components: the perceived “medical standard of care” in a situation, and whether or not an injury was sustained from that situation. Ultimately, it all comes down to the competence of the doctor or medical professional: could a similarly-skilled doctor come to the same conclusions with the information given to him?

If the answer to that is no, then you may have an eligible medical malpractice case.

Common Misdiagnosis Examples

Surprisingly, misdiagnosis can happen in more ways than you think:

  • Missed/no diagnosis. Simply not being able to diagnose a serious condition based on the data gathered.
  • Delayed diagnosis. The doctor makes the correct diagnosis, but after significant time has passed.
  • Failure to recognize symptoms or complications. The doctor makes the correct initial diagnosis, but fails to diagnose the severity of the situation.
  • Failure to recognize multiple diseases. The doctor makes the correct diagnosis for a first disease, but fails to diagnose any related or unrelated secondary or associated diseases.
  • Misdiagnosis due to lab error. The doctor gives an incorrect diagnosis due to incorrect data from erroneous lab results.
  • Misdiagnosis in the emergency room. The doctor makes a misdiagnosis due to time and pressure constraints.

Who is Liable for a Misdiagnosis?

When it comes to a medical misdiagnosis, often you can hold more than just the doctor legally responsible for any injuries that happened as a result. There are actually quite a few people who may be held liable, depending on the severity of the misdiagnosis:

  • Doctor – if they didn’t follow proper standard of care
  • Any associated medical professionals – lab test technicians incorrectly administering tests, improper handling of samples, etc
  • Hospital – if medical professionals are employees of the hospital, it can be held liable for subpar standards

This can be especially true in high-pressure situations such as in an emergency room or on the operating table, where the patient’s life is on the line.

Because medical malpractice lawsuits can often involve larger hospitals who potentially have more to lose, it’s always recommended to consult an experienced, educated attorney before moving forward with the case.