Not every visit to the hospital has a happy ending, and neither does every misdiagnoses lead to severe harm. A large number of medical malpractice lawsuits stem from the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a medical condition, illness or injury. Medical malpractice is the failure of a health care provider to give a patient treatment that meets a generally accepted standard of care as defined by the medical community, resulting in an injury to the patient. in the case that a patient dies- there may be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

The most common diagnostic errors were missed diagnoses. A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis itself is not evidence of negligence. Skillful doctors can and do make diagnostic errors even when using reasonable care.  The key is determining whether the doctor acted competently, which involves an evaluation of what the doctor did and did not do in arriving at a diagnosis. This means looking at the differential diagnosis method the doctor used in making treatment determinations.  Differential diagnosis is a systematic method used by doctors to identify a disease or condition in a patient. Based upon a preliminary evaluation of the patient, the doctor makes a list of diagnosis in order of probability. The physician then tests the strength of each diagnosis by making further medical observations of the patient, asking detailed questions about symptoms and medical history, ordering tests, or referring the patient to specialists. Ideally, a number of potential diagnoses will be ruled out as the investigation progresses, and only one diagnosis will remain at the end.

A patient must prove three things in order to prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit based on a wrong diagnosis.

A Doctor-Patient Relationship Existed

This is when a doctor examines a patient or provides treatment, a doctor-patient relationship is then generally established. No written contract is necessary. No payment or promise of payment is necessary. Doctors are required to provide reasonably competent care any time they act in their capacity as doctors, including recognizing and properly diagnosing potential health problems.

The Doctor Was Negligent

The patient must prove that a doctor in a similar specialty, under similar circumstances, would not have misdiagnosed the patient’s illness or condition.  This usually requires expert testimony.

The Doctor’s Negligence Caused Actual Injury To The Patient

Once a patient proves the medical standard of care that any reasonably competent doctor would have achieved, the patient must prove that their doctor failed to achieve that standard. The patient must also prove that the misdiagnosis caused injury or condition to progress beyond where it normally would have- had the correct diagnosis been made in a timely manner- and that this progression had a negative impact upon treatment. For example, because of a delayed cancer diagnosis the patient had to undergo a more severe treatment (such as chemotherapy). Sometimes a patient can show harm through the form of anxiety, stress, medical problems, risk of recurrence, and expenses due to unnecessary treatment.

Medical malpractice law seeks to ensure that patients always receive competent care, which includes an accurate assessment of any health problems, and a plan for the right course of treatment based on the patient’s condition. Medical malpractice cases are highly regulated by complex rules that vary considerably from state to state, so it’s often essential to get advice or representation from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit can be intimidating and overwhelming. At Harvey Walner & Associates, our legal team will research every detail of your unique situation to determine the most effective strategy.

About Harvey L. Walner & Associates

Our attorneys have over 75 years of combined legal experience in personal injury specializations, including personal injury accidents, worker’s compensation, medical malpractice, and wrongful death cases. If you or a loved one should have the misfortune of being in a personal injury accident, and you need a personal injury lawyer, the experienced attorneys at Harvey L. Walner & Associates Ltd. are here for you. Call us today for a free consultation.