While misdiagnosis is not uncommon, it can have severe consequences, including death. Although even competent healthcare providers make mistakes, if such errors occur as the result of negligence, doctors or other practitioners can be successfully sued for medical malpractice. If you have suffered severe injury or lost a loved one due to misdiagnosis, the medical malpractice attorneys at Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. are well-prepared to fight vigorously to win you just compensation.
Types of Misdiagnosis
There are several ways in which misdiagnosis can occur:
- Failure to diagnose — when a doctor misses a medical condition altogether
- Wrong diagnosis — when a doctor mistakes one problem for another (e.g. a heart attack for gastric distress)
- Delayed diagnosis — when a doctor doesn’t diagnose a medical condition until it has dangerously progressed
Doctors may also fail to diagnose a secondary disease or to identify complications.
When does misdiagnosis constitute medical malpractice?
In order to prove malpractice, we must be able to establish that:
- There is a doctor-patient relationship
- The doctor was negligent (failed to live up to the expected standard of care)
- The doctor’s misconduct resulted in your injury
- Your injury involved real damages (e.g. medical costs, lost income, pain)
In short, in order for us to pursue a lawsuit, the misdiagnosis you experienced must have resulted in improper or delayed treatment or in no treatment at all, worsening your condition.
If you live in northwestern Florida, contact our Pensacola office for a thorough, no-cost evaluation of your case.
Reasons for Misdiagnosis
There are a number of reasons for misdiagnosis, some obvious and some nuanced, but none justify negligence. Although there is typically a person who bears responsibility for misdiagnosis, there are often underlying systemic failures that contribute to the problem:
Hurrying through appointments
The financial needs of physicians, joint practices, hospitals, and medical centers push healthcare practitioners to rush their time with patients. Hurrying between patients can cause doctors to rush through physical exams, prevent them from being fully attentive to patient complaints, and keep them from carefully reviewing medical histories.
Settling for the simplest answer
In too many cases, physicians make the mistake of investigating too little and assuming too much. For example, they may dismiss breathing difficulties as allergy-related, abdominal pain as indigestion, or body aches as a normal consequence of aging. Once they have diagnosed a patient’s complaint as minor, they may not follow up in the near future, allowing the patient’s condition to deteriorate.
Failing to follow up on abnormal findings
Many doctors, not wanting to be alarmists, take a “wait and see” posture when there is an abnormal finding. They may fail to refer the patient to a specialist for closer examination or to schedule further testing. This is especially true if the patient is not experiencing symptoms related to, for example, a suspicious nodule, an elevated blood count, or an electrocardiogram (EKG) with a small glitch. Once again, it is too easy for a doctor to misdiagnose if she/he doesn’t take the patient’s medical and familial history into account.
Misreading or misinterpreting test results
Some doctors misdiagnose a patient’s condition because they don’t take proper care in reading test results or misinterpret the reports they are given by pathologists, hematologists, or radiologists.
Sloppy lab work, poorly administered diagnostic tests, unclear communication
At times, other healthcare providers, not the doctor you are tempted to blame, are at fault. Technicians administering MRIs or mammograms, blood tests or other diagnostic tests can also make mistakes. In some cases, the protocol of the department or healthcare facility has not been followed and sloppy lab work goes uncorrected. (Alarmingly, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 90 percent of lung cancer misdiagnoses result from chest radiographs errors.)
Mix-Ups and miscommunications
It is disheartening to realize that your suffering may be the result of a scrawled or poorly transcribed message, a mischecked box or a misread number, but this is the reality. In such cases, it may be the medical facility’s fault that you have received a misdiagnosis since all diagnostic results should be double-checked. If this type of error is found to be systemic, and others have been previously harmed by it, the hospital or other facility may be found liable under vicarious liability, and you may be entitled to punitive, as well as compensatory, damages.
No matter what the reason for the misdiagnosis that caused you severe pain and/or put your life in danger, Staples, Ellis + Associates is committed to protecting your rights. Our misdiagnosis attorneys have excellent negotiation and litigation skills, and a fine track record of successful outcomes
What Our Medical Malpractice Attorneys Will Do for You
We work on a contingency basis, so you will be charged no attorneys’ fees until we win your case. Once we determine that you have a viable lawsuit, we will work diligently to bring you the damages you are owed for the suffering you have endured. To this end, we will:
- Communicate directly with opposing attorneys and insurance adjusters
- Examine your medical history and all medical reports concerning your case
- Investigate the defendant’s history of any similar negligence or misconduct
- Interview any pertinent witnesses
- Identify all responsible parties
- Consult with experts in pertinent fields who may testify on your behalf
Most of all, we will prepare a strong courtroom strategy to prove your case, so well-constructed and persuasive that it may lead to an out-of-court settlement.
Damages We Will Fight to Win
By successfully proving that the misdiagnosis received worsened your medical condition or caused the wrongful death of a loved one, we will have grounds to argue that you are entitled to compensation for:
- Unnecessary, painful surgery or therapies (e.g. chemotherapy for cancer)
- Being prescribed incorrect medications with uncomfortable/damaging side effects
- Suffering a worsening of your illness that caused you pain and/or shortened your life
- Medical and rehabilitation costs
- Lost income, present and future
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological counseling
- Permanent disability
- Permanent disfigurement (e.g. having a breast unnecessarily removed)
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Final medical costs, funeral costs, loss of financial and emotional support (in the case of wrongful death)
Don’t Remain a Victim: Contact Our Experienced Misdiagnosis Attorneys
At Staples, Ellis + Associates, we are not only accomplished misdiagnosis lawyers, but we are also compassionate human beings. We understand the misery you have gone through and continue to endure due to a misdiagnosis caused by negligence. We will make your cause our cause and do all that we can to see to it that you and your family obtain the secure future you deserve. Contact our office today for a free consultation.