One of the most common reasons for medical malpractice lawsuits is diagnostic error. Misdiagnosed patients may experience a vast array of medical complications that can alter their physical, financial, and emotional well-being for years. Errors include a diagnosis of the wrong disease, as well as being given a clean bill of health when a disease is actually present. These scenarios can be devastating to a patient and his or her entire family.
Types of Diagnostic Errors
There are myriad forms of misdiagnosis, but the most common errors include the following:
- A wrong diagnosis – occurs when a physician proceeds with a medical plan based on the wrong condition. An example would be a doctor diagnosing a patient with a malignant tumor when it is actually benign.
- Missed diagnosis – occurs when a doctor completely overlooks an illness, telling the patient there is no medical problem at all.
- Delayed diagnosis – occurs when a substantial amount of time passes before the doctor discovers the condition. In these cases, the slow response can negatively affect the prognosis. This is one of the most common misdiagnosis scenarios.
- Missed complications can exacerbate the symptoms or progression of a disease, even with a correct diagnosis.
- Related diseases that are commonly associated with a primary illness are sometimes overlooked.
Emergency Room Error
In an emergency situation, the chance of receiving a misdiagnosis increases. Time-sensitive situations can affect the depth of diagnostic tests, resulting in many possible errors. The nature of crisis in emergency rooms decreases the level of diagnostic investigation available to non-ER medical professionals. Heart attacks and strokes are among the most common misdiagnosed conditions in ERs, and 28 to 57 percent of children with appendicitis are misdiagnosed.
Emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and firefighters are all considered first responders and are highly protected by the law. Unless there is an incident of blatantly reckless and negligent behavior, they may not be considered legally or financially liable for medical malpractice. Physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals employed in an ER, on the other hand, do not have the same legal safety net as first responders. However, the intense and time-sensitive nature of the ER does provide room for interpretation in court.
Proving Misdiagnosis in Court
Three essential factors must be proven in court to win a misdiagnosis medical malpractice suit:
- A professional relationship between doctor and patient was established.
- The doctor displayed negligence through wrong or delayed treatment choices. To establish this, the doctor’s methods of evaluation will be examined. Many times, comparisons with actions of other competent physicians are made to display poor choices leading to negligence.
- The patient was subsequently injured because of this negligence.
Gladstein Law Firm
Pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit can be intimidating and overwhelming. At Gladstein Law Firm, our legal team will research every detail of your unique situation to determine the most effective strategy. Attorney and founder Seth Gladstein has experience with New York City’s most respected medical malpractice defense firms. This provides him with valuable insight into the viewpoints and strategies of doctors, lawyers, and insurance companies in malpractice litigation. If you reside in Lexington, Owensboro, or Murray, contact Gladstein Law today for a free consultation.