If a delay or failure to diagnose a disease has resulted in injury or disease progression above and beyond that which would have resulted from a timely diagnosis, medical professionals could be held liable. These professionals are held to a specific standard of care and are supposed to work within reason of that. Many doctors are trained to think and act in a “differential diagnosis” sort of way; this calls for a doctor to list, in order of probability, his or her impressions or differing diagnoses of possible causes for a patient’s presenting symptoms. If a doctor failed to consider the patient’s true diagnosis on his or her list, or listed it but failed to rule it out with additional testing and criteria, then the doctor is likely to be able to be sued for medical malpractice.
However, very complex sets of rules are set around medical malpractice cases. This is because many of these situations are very difficult to prove. This is why it is important that many people going forth with a case have an attorney on their side that is experienced in medical malpractice cases.
Most Common Negligence
The most common type of negligence that is seen by medical professionals is typically when a doctor fails to treat a medical condition by “dismissing” the presenting symptoms as temporary, minor, or otherwise not worthy of treatment. In a situation like this, it could result in a worsening of the underlying condition or injury. This could cause further harm or injury to the patient. Sometimes a doctor who has correctly diagnosed a disease or condition may nonetheless fail to properly treat it.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice Occurred
Not every failed treatment is going to lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. The law does not hold doctors legally responsible for all diagnostic errors. Patients have to be diligent in proving three key things in order to prevail in their possible case: That a doctor-patient relationship existed, that the doctor was negligent and didn’t provide treatment in a reasonably skillful and competent manner, and that the doctor’s negligence caused actual injury to the patient in some way.
Did the Misdiagnosis Actually Harm the Patient?
A good example of this is a patient who is dealing with a cancer diagnosis. If there was a delay in their diagnosis, could the medical professionals be held liable for what happens afterwards? For instance, the patient could have to undergo a more severe treatment like chemotherapy due to the fact that there was a delay, or perhaps they even died because of the fact that they could no longer respond to treatment. With some cancers in patients, a delay in treatment increases the risk of recurrence.
Sometimes in another rare case, the doctor may diagnose a patient with a condition or illness that the patient does not have, the patient may also be able to prove harm in the form of anxiety, stress, medical problems, and expenses. This could all be due to unnecessary treatment.
As mentioned previously, medical malpractice cases are highly complex and follow very specific rules. We trust our doctors and leave it up to them so, to end up injured because of misdiagnosis, we have a right and are entitled to compensation that you deserve. Call WTW today for a consultation for your case.