What to Do about a Medical Misdiagnosis
Milwaukee Personal Injury Attorneys on Misdiagnosis Lawsuits
Medical misdiagnosis isn’t a common occurrence, thankfully, but it is always unsettling when it does occur. An error in diagnosis can result in the wrong (and even unnecessary) treatment, a delayed treatment, or even a complete lack of treatment. Obviously, any of these situations tend to worsen the outlook for the patient.
Most cases of misdiagnosis occur in the Emergency Room. As you can well imagine, time is usually of the essence in emergency situations, and in their haste to figure out a patient’s problem and address it, doctors can easily miss or incorrectly diagnosis a condition. This is particularly true with less common illnesses and conditions, or when a patient’s symptoms don’t seem to mesh with his physical characteristics, age or medical history.
While not every instance of misdiagnosis is grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit, our Milwaukee personal injury attorneys will fight for you if there is any compensation to be had. Schedule a free consultation to meet with one of our lawyers and find out if your situation is the result of your doctor’s or hospital’s negligence.
Types of Medical Misdiagnosis
- Wrong diagnosis. Also known as misdiagnosis, this refers to a doctor diagnosing a condition incorrectly.
- Missed diagnosis. A doctor tells the patient everything is fine, although it later turns out the patient was in fact ill.
- Delayed Diagnosis. A correct diagnosis is made, but only after an initial incorrect diagnosis.
- Failure to recognize complications. A doctor makes a correct diagnosis, but misses something that changes or worsens the patient’s condition.
- Failure to diagnose a related disease. A doctor gets one diagnosis correct, but misses a related disease which should have been considered due to it often accompanying the initial diagnosis.
- Failure to diagnose an unrelated disease. A doctor gives a correct diagnosis of one disease, but misses an unrelated second disease.
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Proving Medical Misdiagnosis
Contrary to what you might think, the law doesn’t automatically hold physicians legally accountable for all diagnosis errors. A successful malpractice lawsuit over a medical misdiagnosis has to prove three things:
- There was a doctor-patient relationship
- The doctor failed to provide treatment in a reasonably skillful/competent manner (i.e. He was negligent.)
- Negligence by the doctor caused the patient’s injury
So, it comes down to negligence on the part of the doctor. Which begs the question:
How Is Physician Negligence Proven in a Malpractice Case?
If a doctor misdiagnoses a condition, or makes a delayed diagnosis, this alone is not evidence of negligence. To determine negligence, one has to evaluate what the doctor did and didn’t do when formulating his diagnosis. This involves reviewing the “differential diagnosis” approach doctors use when making treatment decisions—which is the process of looking at all possible diagnoses and systematically ruling out those which do not conform to the results of tests and other investigative approaches.
In medical malpractice cases alleging negligent diagnosis, it must be proven that another doctor faced with the same situation would not have also misdiagnosed the illness. This comes down to proving either:
- The doctor never included the correct diagnosis as a possibility on his differential diagnosis list, while a competent doctor in a similar situation would have.
- The doctor had the correct diagnosis on his differential diagnosis list, but dropped the ball by not ordering appropriate tests or questioning specialists as to the possibility of it being the correct diagnosis.
Can a Flawed Medical Test Be Grounds for a Medical Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?
It’s unfortunate, but medical tests can sometimes be bungled due to faulty equipment or human error, such as if samples were contaminated or something is missed on an X-ray. In such situations, the doctor cannot be held liable for a misdiagnosis, but those responsible for maintaining the equipment, or for handling specimens or reading x-rays, can. But again, as with a suit against a doctor, it has to be proven the error was made due to negligence.
Suing For Medical Treatments Received When None Were Necessary
It’s rare, but occasionally a misdiagnosis will be made and a patient will undergo chemotherapy or some other treatment when the patient didn’t actually have an illness. Besides the physical harm endured by the patient, patients can also claim harm due to the anxiety and stress the treatments caused. And, of course, patients can sue for the expense of the unnecessary treatment.
If you believe you’ve been the victim of medical negligence, our Milwaukee medical malpractice attorneys are here to help. We’ll assess your case for free. Provided there is evidence to suggest malpractice, we’ll fully fund your case all the way to trial if necessary to get you the financial compensation you deserve.