When you visit a doctor because you are suffering from an illness or injury, you expect to get quality medical care. You hope that the doctor will appropriately diagnose and treat your condition.
For the most part, doctors treat their patients within the standard of care. However, there are situations when that does not occur. Maybe a doctor is being careless. They are overworked and had a bad day. They are just not thinking clearly.
Another possibility is that the medical condition presents the same symptoms as another disease. For example, pain, fatigue, and weight loss could signal lupus, cancer, or anemia. So misdiagnosis is a common issue.
The problem is that misdiagnosis can lead to a worsened condition and even death. Even when the correct diagnosis is eventually figured out, it could still cause significant damage to the body in the meantime. In fact, it could lead to medical malpractice.
In malpractice cases that involve disability or death, one third are due to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. In fact, an inaccurate diagnosis is the top cause of serious medical errors. So if you have seen a doctor for your medical issue and are receiving treatment but your symptoms are not improving, it is possible that you are receiving treatment for the wrong disease. In this case, it is best to seek a second opinion before your symptoms get worse.
Common Missed Diagnoses
Here are examples of several situations in which a missed diagnosis can result in medical malpractice:
- Broken bone. You would think that broken bones would be easy to diagnose with an X-ray, but sometimes doctors overlook them, especially when the fracture is not that severe. Let’s say that you visit the emergency room after falling and injuring your wrist. The ER doctor obtains an X-ray and reviews ir. They determine that you have soft tissue damage but no bone fracture. After a couple week, you are still in pain, with no improvement. You visit your primary care physician and they immediately see the fracture on the ER X-ray. They determine that it requires treatment. In this scenario, it is likely that the ER doctor’s missed diagnosis will be considered medical malpractice.
- Heart attack. You visit the ER with symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, and occasional lightheadedness. After performing a physical exam and ordering blood work, the doctor cannot find a specific diagnosis. The doctor says you are probably dealing with heartburn and sends you home with medication. The next day, you are rushed to the ER after suffering a heart attack. The doctor’s missed diagnosis had caused you to suffer permanent heart damage. This is another scenario in which you could file a claim for medical malpractice.
- Cancer. Cancer is another disease that is often misdiagnosed. If you see a doctor every year for an annual checkup, they should be checking for cancer and other serious health problems. If, for example, you are suddenly diagnosed with Stage III by another doctor, the cancer has likely been in your body for years. It should have been caught by your primary care physician and could therefore be considered medical malpractice.
When Can I File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Do you feel as though your doctor’s negligence contributed to your injuries or worsened condition? If so, you might be able to file a claim. Here a few questions to ask yourself:
- Should your doctor have accurately diagnosed your condition? To be held liable for medical malpractice, a doctor must have had an opportunity to provide an accurate diagnosis. If your doctor had all the information they needed (or could have obtained it) to provide a correct diagnosis, then you may have a claim.
- Have you suffered harm as a result of the missed diagnosis? To pursue a valid medical malpractice claim, you must have suffered damages. These losses may include current or future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, or other economic and non-economic losses.
- Do you still have time to file a medical malpractice claim? In Florida, you are subject to a statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. You have two years from the date you discovered your condition and four years of the date of your missed diagnosis.
Medical malpractice claims can be complex. It can be tricky to determine if you have a strong case against your doctor. You will need a lot of evidence to prove your case. If you have doubts about your case, it is a good idea to contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Keep in mind that there are very specific parameters for what does and does not constitute medical malpractice. Just because an error was made, or the outcome was not what you had hoped for, does not mean that malpractice occurred.
Contact Us Today
Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnoses are common causes of medical malpractice. They may seem like minor issues, but they can be life or death situations. In these situations, contact the team at Brill & Rinaldi, The Law Firm. We will carefully evaluate your case and guide you appropriately. Schedule a free consultation and we can determine whether or not you should pursue a medical malpractice claim. Call (954) 876-4344 or fill out the online form. We have offices in Weston, Coral Gables, and Daytona Beach.