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Medical Malpractice: Outpatient Misdiagnoses

Picture of Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd.
Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd.

December 9, 2015

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Every year in the United States, approximately 12 million adults who seek outpatient medical care are misdiagnosed, according to a study published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety. This figure amounts to 1 out of 20 adult patients. The study goes on to say that in half of those cases, the misdiagnosis has the potential to result in severe harm.

A large number of medical malpractice lawsuits stem from the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a medical condition, illness, or injury. Some of the most common reasons for a misdiagnosis include: problems with ordering a diagnostic test, failure by the patient to provide an accurate medical history, and errors made by a doctor when interpreting test results. When this happens, a doctor’s diagnosis error can lead to incorrect treatment, delayed treatment, or even no treatment at all, causing a patient’s condition to become much worse to the point of death.

If you think you may be the victim of medical malpractice due to an outpatient misdiagnosis, you first need to find out if you have enough evidence to claim outpatient misdiagnosis. A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis itself is not enough evidence for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Every day, skilled doctors make diagnostic errors even when using reasonable care. For you to decide if there is enough evidence for a medical malpractice lawsuit, you and your lawyer must determine whether the doctor acted competently. This means looking at the evaluation of what the doctor did or did not do in arriving to the final diagnosis.

For a medical malpractice case to happen, you must prove that a doctor in a similar specialty, under similar circumstances, would not have misdiagnosed your illness or condition. Another way that the medical malpractice case can proceed is if the doctor did indeed include the correct diagnosis while evaluating, but failed to perform the appropriate tests or seek opinions from other specialists in order to fully investigate the diagnosis. You must also prove that the doctor’s negligent misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, caused you injury or allowed the condition to progress beyond where it normally would have, had the correct diagnosis been made in a timely manner. You must also prove that this progression had a negative impact upon treatment.

If you or someone you know may be a victim of an outpatient misdiagnosis, please contact one of our qualified lawyers today to learn more about what your rights are in a medical malpractice.

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