When patients go to the doctor, they expect to receive only the best care from a competent doctor. However, even a highly trained medical professional can exhibit professional negligence. When a doctor fails to uphold the appropriate standard of care in some way, they could open themselves up to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Many patients who have been the victims of medical negligence have wondered, “Can you sue a doctor for misdiagnosis?” This blog aims to explain how you can sue for an incorrect diagnosis, as well as what you need for a successful claim.
At Lipton Law, our Michigan medical malpractice lawyers have considerable experience helping Michigan residents seek justice and fair compensation for their injuries. When a medical professional fails to uphold the standard of care, they could cause harm to a patient. If this happens, the harmed patient has the right to file a valid medical malpractice claim. If you or someone you love has suffered harm from a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis, contact a Michigan medical malpractice attorney with Lipton Law. To schedule a free consultation with us, please call our office at 248-557-1688 today.
What Is a Medical Misdiagnosis?
Cases involving medical misdiagnosis encompass a number of specific diagnostic errors. Receiving an incorrect diagnosis, a delayed diagnosis, or a failure to diagnose can all be the basis of a medical malpractice case. While not every wrong diagnosis will lead to patient injury, it is essential for a patient to receive the correct diagnosis so they can receive the treatment they need.
When patients see a doctor, the doctor has the responsibility of reviewing that patient’s symptoms, medical history, and medical records. They will then use those symptoms to make a list of conditions that could cause those symptoms. Then, they will order the necessary tests to rule out any wrong diagnosis. This is part of the differential diagnosis process. Eventually, only one correct diagnosis remains.
Although this process may sound simple, there are a number of ways in which the process can become complicated. It is possible for a doctor to make a wrong diagnosis based on the actions or mistakes of others, such as lab technicians, nurses, or even the manufacturers of medical machinery. However, if the doctor’s negligence is what ultimately led to the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, the patient can file a misdiagnosis lawsuit.
Is Misdiagnosis Considered Negligence?
This depends on the facts of the individual case. Just because a doctor misdiagnosed a patient, this does not always constitute grounds for a misdiagnosis lawsuit. Careful and skilled physicians can and do make mistakes, but unless negligence is present, this does constitute medical malpractice. If the doctor failed to achieve an accurate and timely diagnosis because of medical negligence, this can be the basis of a medical malpractice case.
If you are unsure of whether or not you have a valid medical malpractice claim, we recommend speaking with an attorney who has experience with medical malpractice cases. They will be able to evaluate the facts of your case and advise you on how to proceed.
How Common Is Medical Misdiagnosis?
According to a recent study by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM), approximately 12 million people are misdiagnosed every year in the United States. Of those 12 million people, between 40,000 and 80,000 people die as a result of their doctor’s misdiagnosis. This is an alarming number of potential medical malpractice cases. Although there is no perfect solution for this problem, filing a lawsuit as a victim can help hold negligent doctors accountable for their actions.
Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions
Certain conditions are more likely to be misdiagnosed than others, often due to the nature of their symptoms, or the lack of symptoms. In the following sections, we outline the most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions.
Cancer misdiagnosis is one of the most common types of misdiagnosis in the medical field. Because the symptoms can vary greatly depending on the person and the type of cancer, it can be difficult to pinpoint the source of someone’s symptoms. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed types of cancer include breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and cervical cancer. When human error or medical negligence prevents a cancer diagnosis, this can allow the condition to worsen and the cancer to spread. Many of the symptoms associated with cancer are also associated with countless other medical conditions. However, it is the doctor’s responsibility to achieve a differential diagnosis by upholding the expected standard of care.
On top of diagnosing a stroke, doctors must also identify the type of stroke the patient has suffered. When it comes to strokes, time is absolutely of the essence. Misdiagnosis of a stroke could lead to devastating consequences. Some of the most common symptoms of strokes include the following.
- Difficulty speaking or seeing
- Paralysis or weakness
- Serious headaches
Many negligent doctors have mistakenly diagnosed strokes as Bell’s palsy. However, the symptoms of a stroke vs Bell’s palsy are notably different. Failing to properly diagnose a stroke could result in further harm to the patient, or even a wrongful death case.
Heart Attack Misdiagnosis
Sometimes, doctors fail to diagnose heart attacks if they don’t think the patient fits the profile of those at risk of heart attacks. They may also neglect to order the right tests or they may misinterpret the test results that they do get. It is possible for patients to have heart attacks without any pain. Particularly in women, doctors often misdiagnose heart attacks as panic attacks, heartburn, or even fatigue. A heart attack misdiagnosis can be deadly for patients.
Lyme Disease Misdiagnosis
Lyme disease is another commonly misdiagnosed condition. This medical condition is a type of bacterial infection that is transmitted through tick bites. Many of the symptoms of Lyme disease can mirror the symptoms of the flu, chronic fatigue syndrome, mono, and other conditions. Although no cure exists for Lyme disease, it is essential to achieve early detection and treatment to prevent the patient’s condition from worsening.
Other Misdiagnosed Conditions
- Celiac disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Parkinson’s disease
What to Do if Your Condition Worsens After Seeing a Doctor
If you have symptoms that worsen even after receiving a diagnosis from your primary physician, there is a fair chance that the doctor got the diagnosis wrong. Once you realize that your condition has worsened or that you have not improved at all, we recommend seeking further medical care. You should always prioritize your own health in these situations, even over seeking help from a law firm. Once you have received the appropriate medical care, you should contact a misdiagnosis lawyer in Michigan. Waiting too long or purposefully waiting until your conditions worsen could spell the end of your misdiagnosis lawsuit before it even begins.
Seeking prompt medical care will not only help you recover, but it will also strengthen your claim against the healthcare provider who misdiagnosed you. We recommend speaking with an attorney as soon as possible once your health has stabilized. This will ensure that you do not miss the Michigan medical malpractice statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Michigan is two years from the date on which the medical negligence occurred. There are only a few exceptions, which apply to cases involving minors and medical malpractice wrongful death.
Can You Sue a Doctor for Giving the Wrong Diagnosis?
Yes, but only if you can prove that they engaged in medical negligence that violates the standard of care they are expected to uphold. Additionally, you or someone you love must have suffered actual harm or illness as a result of the misdiagnosis. As long as you can prove medical misdiagnosis with strong evidence, you should be able to achieve success with your claim. After all, incorrect doctor diagnoses can lead to a whole host of problems, including the following.
- Expensive trips to the emergency room
- Unnecessary surgical procedures and medical bills
- Worsening of an existing medical condition
Can You Sue a Hospital for the Wrong Diagnosis?
This heavily depends on the facts of your case. In most cases, only the doctor can be sued for a medical misdiagnosis. However, certain other medical personnel can also be held liable in these cases if their negligence contributed to the harm of the patient. Additionally, most hospitals and medical facilities cannot be held liable in cases of misdiagnosis. Patients can, however, sue healthcare facilities if they were led to believe that their doctor was an employee of that facility, when in reality they were an independent contractor. This concept is referred to as “vicarious liability.”
For more information on how to sue a hospital, contact a Michigan hospital injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Should I Sue the Doctor or the Hospital for Misdiagnosis?
In almost all cases, you will sue the doctor responsible for the misdiagnosis. But what if the doctor is an independent contractor, but you were led to believe they were an employee of the hospital? When this happens, you may be able to sue the hospital under the doctrine of “vicarious liability.” The hospital has a responsibility to inform you that your doctor is an independent contractor and not a hospital employee. If they fail to do so, they can be held liable for that doctor’s actions.
How Do I Pursue a Lawsuit for Medical Misdiagnosis?
Once you have received treatment for your symptoms, we recommend speaking with an attorney as soon as possible. Explain the situation during a free consultation with a law firm of your choice. An attorney will then determine whether or not you have the basis of a personal injury claim. To schedule a consultation with the experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Lipton Law, please call our office at 248-557-1688 today.
How to Prove Misdiagnosis
Medical malpractice cases can be deceptively complicated. Therefore, you’ll need as much evidence as possible to support your claim. You’ll need to show certain elements in order to prove medical malpractice. We outline these elements below.
- A physician in the same or a similar specialty would have properly diagnosed your condition.
- The responsible doctor did not include your condition on their differential diagnosis list, but a competent doctor would have included it.
- Or, the responsible doctor did include your condition on their list, but they did not order the right diagnostic tests to achieve the right diagnosis.
- A doctor-patient relationship existed between you and the doctor you are suing.
- The doctor was negligent in their diagnosis of you.
- Their negligence resulted in your injuries or illness.
- You incurred actual damages as a result.
Should I File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you have been harmed due to a doctor’s failure to uphold the expected standard of care, you should absolutely file a lawsuit and seek compensation. Even one small diagnostic error can lead to extreme complications for the patient, or even wrongful death. Patients and family members who have suffered losses from medical malpractice deserve compensation for those losses. When misdiagnosis occurs, it is important to act fast in order to have a better chance at obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Compensation for Medical Misdiagnosis
When you file a lawsuit for your injuries, you have the right to seek compensation for the economic and non-economic damages you suffered. With the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can seek compensation for the following damages.
- Current and future medical bills
- Lost income and lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Depression and anxiety
- Disability or disfigurement
How to Prevent Misdiagnosis
There are a few ways in which you can reduce the risk of a medical misdiagnosis. Communication is clear when it comes to medical treatment. We recommend taking the following steps to ensure that your doctor has as much information as possible about your condition.
- When searching for a physician, try to choose one that has good reviews from their patients.
- If possible, schedule an appointment with a specialist who has more experience with your condition.
- Before you file a lawsuit, get a second opinion from another doctor about your condition.
- During the initial appointment, be sure to take notes and ask questions if you don’t understand something.
- Ask the doctor to review your medical records and test results with you.
- Ask them if there are any alternative diagnoses that are possible given your symptoms.
- If your condition does not improve, return to the doctor with more specific questions.
Keep in mind that, even if you exercise as much caution as possible, you can still suffer harm if a doctor misses something or misdiagnoses your condition.
Do You Have a Medical Misdiagnosis Case?
If you have suffered harm or a worsening of your medical condition due to a doctor’s misdiagnosis, you have the right to file a medical misdiagnosis claim. A medical malpractice attorney with Lipton Law has the experience and skill you need to recover compensation if your doctor failed to uphold the expected standard of care while diagnosing you. We have considerable experience with medical malpractice claims, and we even have nurses on staff at our office who assist us with these claims. To schedule your free case evaluation with us, please call our office at 248-557-1688 today.