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Can I File Suit Against a Physician for a Medical Misdiagnosis?

By: Anapol Weiss

Patients can suffer permanent health consequences when a health care professional fails to make a timely and accurate diagnosis of a medical condition. Below are a few important questions and answers about misdiagnosis and filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

When is a Misdiagnosis Considered Malpractice?

A patient’s lawyer must establish four elements in order to bring a medical malpractice claim. First, the physician must have owed a legal duty to act with the same skill, care and diligence of another reasonably competent professional under similar circumstances.

Second, that duty must have been breached by the healthcare provider, i.e., he or she failed to provide treatment to the patient. Third, the harm to the patient would not have occurred had the negligent medical care not occurred.

In certain circumstances, it is sufficient to prove the negligent medical care increased the risk of harm to the patient. Finally, damages must have resulted, meaning the patient suffered physical, psychological or financial harm as a result of the improper medical care.

What Are Some Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions?

There are many scenarios that can occur in which a patient receives an incorrect or delayed diagnosis. However, we have seen multiple types of cancer misdiagnosed as well as cardiovascular conditions like heart attacks, stroke and dangerous blood clots (Deep Vein Thrombosis/Pulmonary Embolism {DVT/PE}). Pneumonia, meningitis and other infections are also highly dangerous if misdiagnosed.

How Does a Misdiagnosis Happen?

A person can receive a delayed or wrong diagnosis in several ways, but it typically involves failure to screen for a condition or the mismanagement or misinterpretation of test results. Misdiagnosis may also result from failing to investigate symptoms or failing to refer a patient to an appropriate specialist

Who Can be Held Liable for a Misdiagnosis?

Victims and their families usually file suit against the physician or physicians involved in the misdiagnosis. In some cases, other health care professionals such as nurses and staff members may be held liable if their negligence contributed to the patient’s injuries.

Additionally, a hospital involved may be liable where there is a failure to follow procedures related to diagnostic tests.

Is There a Time Limit on Filing a Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?

According to state law, a lawsuit must be filed within a certain amount of time. These deadlines, called the statutes of limitations, differ from state to state. For example, in some jurisdictions, the statute may not begin to run until the injury was discovered. In some states, there are much shorter time periods for filing notice of claim. The sooner you contact an attorney if you believe you have been a victim of a misdiagnosis, the better.

If you or a family member suffered from health problems as a result of misdiagnosis, the medical malpractice legal team at Anapol Weiss can determine if medical negligence was to blame. Contact our firm today for assistance.