The doctor-patient relationship is built on trust. You need to have confidence in your doctor’s advice in order to make decisions about your health and well-being. That’s why when a doctor makes a mistake, like misreading medical test results, it is important to hold her or him accountable. Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. is a small firm with over 40 years of getting Florida residents big results in medical malpractice cases, including those that involve misread test results. Our attorneys have experience taking on the biggest hospitals and insurance companies in order to compensate you for the harm you’ve suffered.
Why are medical test results so important?
Almost every visit to the doctor starts with questions about your health. If you have particular symptoms, the doctor may order tests to understand what is going on with your body. These can be blood tests or X-rays, MRIs or CT scans, or other imaging tests that allow a better view of the body. After reviewing the test or imaging results, a doctor then considers the potential causes of your symptoms. If the doctor incorrectly reads the results of the test or imaging, it can have serious consequences relative to the diagnosis and treatment of your symptoms.
The greatest harm occurs when a doctor fails to diagnose a condition after misreading test results. For instance, if the doctor reviews your X-ray, MRI, or other images and mistakenly determines that a spot or mass is noncancerous, the result can be delayed treatment of cancer. Delayed treatment costs valuable time, which can lead to unnecessary death when it comes to diseases like cancer.
Other problems arise when a doctor forms an incorrect opinion about your condition based on the test results and pursues an improper treatment plan. An unnecessary treatment plan may have disastrous side effects that cause harm. If the doctor misinterprets your test results, you may undergo unnecessary surgeries or procedures. All of these situations can result in harm to you and your loved ones.
Recovering for Misread Medical Test Results
Medical malpractice resulting from misread test results falls under the general category of negligence. Florida laws on negligence allow injured parties to recover from defendants who failed to exercise a reasonable level of care when interacting with the injured party. Negligence typically arises in car wrecks, where one driver failed to exercise a reasonable level of care toward another driver on the road, but it also happens when a doctor fails to follow established procedures when providing care.
Proving a defendant is negligent requires establishing four elements. In the context of misread medical test results, a plaintiff must first show the doctor owed the plaintiff a duty of care. Next, the plaintiff must show the doctor acted in a manner that fell below the accepted standard of care. The plaintiff must then show the doctor’s errors or treatment resulted in injury or harm. Finally, the plaintiff must show damages, such as medical costs or lost income, that resulted from the injury or harm.
Duty of Care
The doctor-patient relationship triggers the duty of care. When a doctor accepts you as a patient, he or she is duty-bound to meet an accepted standard of care in treating you. This means the doctor must act in a way most other well-qualified doctors would act under similar circumstances.
Breach of the Standard of Care
The doctor’s failure to live up to the accepted standard of care is referred to as “a breach of the standard of care.” Breach of the standard of care may occur in several ways, such as by:
- Missing a diagnosis based on misreading test results
- Diagnosing the wrong condition based on misreading test results
- Recommending unnecessary treatment plans based on a misdiagnosis
Showing a doctor breached the accepted standard of care can be difficult but is often done by relying on experts such as other doctors to establish the generally accepted practices and explain how the doctor’s actions were improper. Many times doctors in associated healthcare systems will cover for one another so that medical errors are not discovered. That’s why Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.C. employs its own team of medical experts to review all medical cases and determine whether you are a victim of medical malpractice.
Cause of Injury
In medical malpractice cases, it can be simple to show the doctor’s actions caused your injuries. This is especially true when the injury results from misread medical test results. If a doctor missed a diagnosis and you would not have suffered your injuries if you had been properly diagnosed and treated, you can generally establish that but for the doctor’s actions, you would not have suffered the harm.
Difficulties may arise in cases where other factors could also have played a role in causing the injury. For instance, a doctor may have breached a standard of care by improperly reading test results, but if an intervening factor, such as surgical error, ultimately causes the injury, the doctor may not be liable.
When showing a doctor’s fault for a plaintiff’s injuries, it is extremely important to establish facts and the series of events that led to the injury while eliminating any intervening causes.
Proving damages is the most important part of medical malpractice claims. Damages are the financial impact of the injury. A plaintiff may seek recovery for costs associated with damages, such as additional medical expenses incurred in treating or living with injuries resulting from a doctor’s misread test results. In some cases, damages also include loss of quality of life and reduction in earning potential.
Aside from providing medical bills, plaintiffs often demonstrate damages through expert testimony establishing a plaintiff’s earning potential prior to the misdiagnosis and placing a value on the reduction in quality of life.
Trials versus Settlements
Most claims for medical malpractice do not go to trial. In many cases, doctors or medical malpractice insurance companies are willing to settle your claims to keep the case from becoming public. In these situations, the doctor or insurance company will propose a settlement in exchange for the nondisclosure of your claims. While the settlement may seem fair, you should always have an attorney review and evaluate your case to make sure the settlement compensates you for all long-term damages.
In other cases a plaintiff may not accept an offer of settlement or a doctor or insurance company may not offer to settle the claim. If there is no settlement offer, the case will likely go to trial. Trials involve exchanging records and information or participating in and taking depositions with defendants. If the plaintiff and defendant do not reach a settlement agreement before the date scheduled for trial, the case will go forward. However, the parties may settle up until a verdict is reached.
Contact a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you believe your doctor misread medical test results and caused you harm, reach out to Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. today for a free consultation with our experienced medical malpractice attorneys. In many cases, we will handle your claim at no cost to you until you recover damages.