Misdiagnosis is the most common form of medical malpractice nationwide. From 2013 to 2017, 33 percent of all medical malpractice claims were due to missed or failed diagnoses. And of those patients who filed medical malpractice claims, 36 percent involved the death of a patient due to poor diagnosis.
To determine whether your doctor or medical facility that cared for you was at fault for your medical ailments, the courts will evaluate whether the medical provider met the standard of care.
We’ll explain what the standard of care is and how it relates to misdiagnosis, what you need to know about negligence in medical malpractice lawsuits, and when to contact a medical malpractice attorney.
What Is the Standard of Care?
Medical malpractice cases use a standard of care measure to determine whether a doctor is guilty of medical malpractice. Using the standard of care, the courts will evaluate whether another doctor would have diagnosed and cared for you in the same way under the circumstances your doctor faced.
Using the standard of care helps account for the challenges the medical providers face in diagnosing and caring for patients who exhibit symptoms that could be due to a variety of causes.
That means that the medical provider does not necessarily need to create a perfect outcome for every care scenario, but that the outcome must be satisfactory based on the circumstances.
Failing to administer tests to fully diagnose your condition, prescribing certain treatment methods, or requiring further diagnostic procedures when you didn’t begin to show improvements after a treatment protocol could all be signs of misdiagnosis and medical malpractice.
The best way to demonstrate that your doctor did not meet the standard of care is to call an expert witness to review your medical professional’s actions and state whether they would have acted differently.
Negligence in Medical Malpractice Cases
To win a medical malpractice case for misdiagnosis, you’ll need to prove that the medical provider was negligent. There are four elements to negligence.
- Duty of care: You’ll need to prove that there was a doctor-patient relationship between you and the provider who misdiagnosed you. This means that it can’t be a friend or someone you encountered in passing who speculated as to what you might be experiencing. You must be engaged in a formal medical visit where you access the services of the medical provider or facility.
- Breach: Once you’ve proven a doctor-patient relationship, you’ll need to prove that the doctor breached their duty of care toward you by failing to take the necessary steps to provide an accurate diagnosis.
- Injury: Now you’ll need to show that you suffered an injury due to the medical provider’s failure to properly diagnose you. This could be showing that your ailments did not improve or that they worsened due to the misdiagnosis.
- Cause: Your injuries must be directly caused by the doctor’s failure to properly diagnose your ailment. This means that you can’t sue a doctor for failing to notice other things about you outside of what you were seeking treatment for. You have some responsibility to communicate clearly with your doctor about your ailments and what you’re seeking treatment for.
Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for Misdiagnosis
Tragically, misdiagnosis is far more common than it should be. Stewart & Stewart is committed to helping medical malpractice victims seek financial restitution for these claims and protecting the vulnerable in our community. If you suspect you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, contact us now.