What options does one have if they received a medical misdiagnosis?

Updated on January 7, 2024

If people were to make a list of people, we trusted the most, doctors would likely be topmost of them. However, misdiagnosis affects 12 million people a year, and 40,000 to 80,000 of those are fatal.

Medical malpractice happens when a doctor neglects to meet the standard of care. It includes treatment, aftercare, health management, and misdiagnosis.

Was my doctor negligent?

The first thing to know is that not all misdiagnoses or delayed diagnoses are negligence. Even the most skilled physicians get a diagnosis wrong while using reasonable care. It is more about what they did or did not do to come up with the correct answer. 

Most of the time, it takes another expert to examine how a doctor came to a diagnosis and decide whether the doctor caused harm when another competent doctor under the same circumstances would not have. A doctor’s care does not have to be the best out there, but it must be reasonably skillful and careful.

Requesting a free consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer will help you better understand if you are a victim of a medical misdiagnosis. They will help guide you through the process and help you in seeking compensation.

Types of Diagnostic Errors

Mistakes in diagnosis can happen in numerous ways. 

Wrong diagnosis – Misdiagnosing happens when a doctor picks the wrong illness when narrowing down what is wrong with a patient—for example, diagnosing cancer when there is none.

  • Missed diagnosis – When a doctor gives a patient a clean bill of health, we are excited. However, sometimes there is an illness or disease that they miss entirely. 
  • Delayed diagnosis – Sometimes, a doctor concludes a diagnosis after a significant gap in time, visits, and testing. It is the most common diagnostic mistake and can lead to further injury or even death.
  • Failure to diagnose complications – Many illnesses have complications or factors that worsen, change, or aggravates a condition. It is the doctor’s responsibility to diagnose and explain these to their patients.
  • Failure to diagnose a related disease or injury – Sometimes, multiple things are going on with our bodies at once. When a doctor fails to diagnose an illness that goes hand-in-hand with their primary diagnosis, they have failed to diagnose the entire problem and put their patients at risk.
  • Failure to find and diagnose an unrelated disease or injury – A doctor should look at every test individually. However, sometimes doctors miss a second, unrelated diagnosis. 

Other Errors That Can Affect Diagnosis

Relying on incorrect results happens every day. Laboratory results, radiology equipment, and other diagnostic tests are imperfect and can occur in two ways.

Human error is part of life. However, it feels unfair and traumatic when it results in a misdiagnosis. The examples can range from contamination of lab samples to specialists missing something on an x-ray slide.

Secondly, all medical equipment requires technical upkeep and can lose its accuracy. Faulty diagnostic equipment does happen.

While a doctor is not negligent in these cases, someone else might be. For example, a lab technician that mixes up samples is responsible for the resulting diagnoses. However, it is up to you and your medical malpractice attorney to prove it.

Did the misdiagnosis lead to harm?

A victim of misdiagnosis must prove that it led to injury and pain or a condition that got worse because of the wrong or delayed diagnosis. And in some cases, misdiagnosis leads to death. 

In rare cases, someone gets diagnosed and treated for something they do not have. You have a right to seek damages because of anxiety, stress, and expenses that result in the misdiagnosis.

If you are suffering in any way due to a misdiagnosis, your best plan of action is to consult an expert attorney. It is impossible to prove with their help.

What if a misdiagnosis happened in the emergency room?

The first thing to know is that emergency room personnel have the same responsibility to diagnosis you correctly and thoroughly as any other medical professionals.

The increased pace and smaller windows of time in emergency rooms make them the most common places for a missed or wrong diagnosis. Uncommon illnesses are far more likely to escape without the correct diagnosis. 

Some of the most common misdiagnoses are heart attacks, strokes, and meningitis. And emergency room misdiagnosed appendicitis frequently happens in children. 

How to Prove Medical Malpractice Due to Misdiagnosis

The burden of proof in a medical malpractice claim based around a misdiagnosis is high for the patient. However, you do not have to go through this alone. With the help of personal injury lawyers at Wapner Newman, you can decide if seeking damages is best for you and your family.

Did the doctor fail to follow the standard of care? 

The standard of care means that the treatment a patient would receive from any competent physician. A patient must show a doctor’s negligence by not following that standard of care.

Did the doctor act negligently? 

If the doctor did not follow the standard of care and injured the patient, the doctor was negligent. However, a patient has to prove that and document everything. Also, it means that a patient would be healthy had they follow the standard of care.

Did the doctor’s negligence harm you?

As mentioned, harm comes in a variety of ways, including emotionally. However, a patient must prove that injury, how it affected them, and that it resulted in damages. Medical malpractice cases are expensive and can last a long time. In the case of a deep vein thrombosis misdiagnosis you may have a range of effects you suffer with. You can discuss these to be used as proof of DVT and the misdiagnosis you received with an experienced DVT compensation solicitor in order to help you be compensated for your suffering and stress.

Medical bills, proof of loss of income, and other documentation will help prove a misdiagnosis. 

By pursuing a medical malpractice case, you are not only standing up for yourself, but you are also holding medical professionals responsible so that it does not happen to someone else.  

You Are Not Alone

Misdiagnosis is a scary concept and should not happen to anyone. However, you are not alone if you are a victim of medical malpractice. Personal injury attorneys understand the law and are experts in their field. It is helpful to have them on your team to prove you were injured because of a misdiagnosis. 

A free consultation with a lawyer is always a good idea, and you will know how to move forward, one way or another. It is your right to seek compensation and justice in the case of a misdiagnosis that has done you harm. We trust our physicians, and when misdiagnosis happens, it can disrupt nearly all aspects of our lives. 

Anthony Jones

Anthony Jones is a freelance writer with over 15 years of experience writing about health supplements for various health and fitness magazines. He also owns a health supplements store in Topeka, Kansas. Anthony earned his health and science degree at Duke University, where he studied the effects of exercise and nutrition on human physiology.