Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, causing over 250,000 deaths per year. One of the most common medical mistakes is misdiagnosis, accounting for the majority of malpractice insurance payouts and leading to an estimated 160,000 injuries and deaths in the U.S. each year. When a physician fails in their duty to treat a patient at the industry-accepted standard of care and the result is a misdiagnosis, the injured patient can file a medical malpractice claim to recover damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. But how do you prove a medical misdiagnosis occurred in your case?
How Does a Medical Misdiagnosis Occur?
There are three recognized causes of medical misdiagnosis:
- Failure to diagnose
- Wrong diagnosis
- Delayed diagnosis
Achieving a correct diagnosis depends on a physician’s ability to be accurate in their diagnoses, act in a timely manner, and communicate effectively with the patient. The industry’s standard of care for medical patients requires all three of the above. If a medical provider, including a doctor, nurse, member of a healthcare team, or a hospital facility fails in this duty, they can be held liable for damages. Proving liability requires showing the following:
- That the medical provider had a provider/patient relationship at the time of the misdiagnosis
- That the provider owed a duty of care to the patient to treat them to the industry-accepted standard of care
- That they breached this duty by acting negligently
- That the negligence directly caused injury to the patient
- That the patient suffered significant economic and non-economic damages due to the injury.
Proving Failure to Diagnose in a Medical Malpractice Case
In a “failure to diagnose” case, a doctor may completely fail to diagnose the patient with a condition or injury, or they might diagnose one injury or condition and fail to diagnose a second present condition or injury. Proving evidence in this type of case often requires the following evidence:
- Medical records
- Doctor’s report
- Eyewitness testimony
- Testimony of medical experts
- Photographs, medical images, or videos
- Copies of medical bills, emails, voicemails, and other correspondence
The evidence must show that the doctor negligently failed to diagnose your condition and that you suffered harm due to this negligence.
Proving Wrong Diagnosis in Medical Misdiagnosis Cases
A wrongful diagnosis claim asserts that the medical provider gave a mistaken or incorrect diagnosis of a condition or injury. In cases of wrongful diagnosis, not only can the patient’s true condition worsen due to the lack of proper treatment, but they may also undergo unnecessary treatment, procedures, or medications for a condition they do not have.
Proving a wrongful diagnosis requires:
- Reviewing the patient’s medical report
- Consulting with medical experts
- Showing diagnostic images
- Interviewing eyewitnesses
Our experienced Louisville medical misdiagnosis attorneys know that a wrong diagnosis is one of the most egregious forms of medical malpractice because of the double impact of missing the correct diagnosis of a condition and receiving unnecessary treatment for a condition that isn’t present.
Proving Delayed Diagnosis
When a patient experiences a significant delay between the onslaught of their symptoms and a doctor’s correct diagnosis they could experience significant harm, including a worsened condition that could have been more effectively treated if promptly diagnosed. Strokes, heart attacks, and severe infections are dangerous if not promptly diagnosed and treated. Cancer can worsen to a stage more difficult to treat if doctors delay in properly diagnosing it.
Proving a delayed diagnosis requires showing evidence such as:
- The patient’s medical report
- Diagnostic images, photos, or videos
- Medical expert testimony
- Eyewitness testimony
By showing evidence that a delayed diagnosis caused a worsening of the condition and the patient would not have suffered as severely had the diagnosis been made sooner, they can recover compensation for damages.
Importance of Experienced Legal Help in a Medical Misdiagnosis Case
It often requires a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the misdiagnosis to correctly identify the type of misdiagnosis that occurred, pinpoint the liable party, and gather and present evidence of liability. A skilled and experienced Louisville medical malpractice attorney can maximize the chances of recovering damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.