A report by the Institute of Medicine, which was commissioned by the U.S. government, stated that most people in America will see one misdiagnosis in their lifetime, partially because the health care system is becoming more complex. Diagnoses are often missed because of a failure of communication between different specialist and or the failure of the attending doctor or primary care doctor to take charge of the overall care. If you do believe you have been misdiagnosed and are suffering from related illnesses or injuries, you need to contact a medical malpractice attorney.
Common Types of Misdiagnosis
When a doctor or medical facility misdiagnoses you, you have the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The doctor has to have had to breach the medical standard of care, which means that another doctor could have easily made the correct diagnosis. Common types of misdiagnoses include:
- Cancer. A cancer misdiagnosis could mean that you undergo chemo, radiation or surgery when you don’t need it or it could mean that the cancer isn’t caught in time or at all and it spreads when you could have gone into remission.
- Asthma. This may be misdiagnosed as chronic bronchitis.
- Lymph node inflammation could be misdiagnosed as appendicitis. Inflamed lymph nodes could mean several things, including cancer.
- Heart attacks could be misdiagnosed as panic attacks, indigestion and other issues.
- Strokes may be misdiagnosed as migraines or other minor issues.
- Staph infections may be misdiagnosed as the flu.
Was the Doctor Negligent?
Just because you were misdiagnosed doesn’t mean that the doctor was negligent. However, a doctor is required to be reasonably careful, when considering a diagnosis. To successfully prosecute a medical malpractice claim, you need to show that the doctor was not reasonably careful and that the lack of care was a cause of a substantial injury. The doctor has to consider all possible diagnosis when they are determining treatment and also must rule out anything that could be life-threatening.
Doctors are trained to have something called a differential diagnosis for your condition to be able to diagnose your disease properly. This means the doctor makes a list of the possibilities of diseases and conditions and then eliminates those that do not fit the symptoms you are having and runs tests for anything that could be dangerous or life-threatening
If the test are not available or inconclusive the doctor must treat you for anything life-threatening until it can be proven that you do not have that condition.
If the misdiagnosis was because of faulty equipment or because the doctor relied on a lab or other facility’s wrong information, the doctor might not be found negligent, but the lab or other facilities may be found negligent.
Additionally, you must be able to prove that the doctor’s misdiagnosis caused you harm or made a condition you already had worse. An example would be a cancer misdiagnosis. If the doctor does not diagnose cancer properly, the delay in treating it could cause cancer to metastasize and no longer respond to treatment.
Who Can Be Sued?
In most cases, your primary care physician is sued for the misdiagnosis. In some cases, the person who was negligent, such as a lab technician, specialist or a nurse may be sued if they contributed to the harm done to you. You should always check the relationship of a doctor or other professionals if you are suing for a medical malpractice claim.