If you are the type of person that gets sick pretty often, you probably had at least one misdiagnosis during your life. Sometimes this doesn’t affect you that much, but there are times when a wrong diagnosis can ruin someone’s life. So what can you do in that case, can you sue a doctor for the wrong diagnosis ?
Yes, you actually can sue a doctor for the wrong diagnosis, and you should! If a doctor tells you that you have another illness or injury than the one you actually have, he did a misdiagnosis and this is called a medical malpractice. As this can ruin your life (in some cases even kill you), you have all the rights to sue that doctor.
The “umbrella” term for this legal area is often called “the personal injury law” and is one of the most important laws in the medical world. If someone misdiagnosed you and nothing bad happened, they will get a civil case, but if it’s found that the doctor misdiagnosed you on purpose or that you or someone else died because of that malpractice, the doctor will get a criminal case.
What Is Misdiagnosis and What Can You Do About It?
The term “misdiagnosis” is used for when a doctor either misread your test results or guessed that you have a different illness than you actually have. One wrong diagnosis can :
• Worsen your medical condition (an example of that is when a doctor gives you a different treatment and you end up having a heart attack).
• Prolong the right diagnosis (an example of that can be : a person seems to have kidney stones and gets treated for them. Only a few hours after the procedure starts, the doctor realizes that the patient actually has appendicitis and switches the treatment)
• Result in you getting harmed or dying (in the legal world, it’s known as “wrongful death). Cases of wrong diagnosis may also be considered valid if a doctor is not be able to give you a diagnosis for your illness. There are also situations when the hospital or the pharmacy will be considered faulty.
All of these points violate the Medical Standard Of Care that should be respected at all costs by a real doctor. Medical negligence is not an act that can be excused and a trained professionist should not fail in helping you.
But, in order for you to be able to sue a doctor for wrong diagnosis and win, the doctor’s misdiagnosis must have caused an injury or a death, otherwise you have small chances of winning, but it depends on each individual case.
What Common Misdiagnoses Are There ?
One out of twenty patients get misdiagnosed, so, mathematically speaking, doctors have a good success rate, which is 95%. But judging by the fact that a misdiagnosis can mean that a disease goes untreated for a prolonged time or that a patient, a human being gets treated in a wrong way, it’s not acceptable.
Some misdiagnosis that are common in the medical world are :
• Asthma is often a misdiagnosis for recurring bronchitis, that’s why you should consult multiple doctors.
• A Heart Attack can be a misdiagnosis for indigestion or panic attacks, thus you should be really careful.
• Lyme Disease can be a misdiagnosis for depression, mononucleosis or the flu, which is yet another reason to pay a close attention to your diagnosis.
• Alzheimer’s can be a misdiagnosis for Parkinson’s, stress or a stroke, even if the diagnosis is given by a well known doctor.
• Lupus is misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis or chronic fatigue more often than you’d think, even if they are not that similar.
What Can You Do If You Feel Worse After Seeing A Doctor ?
If you feel really bad, you can go to an emergency room or to urgent care right away, but do not forget to tell them about what treatment you had. Getting healthy is the most important thing,
your attorney can help you with the case so you won’t have to worry about it. The people from the emergency room along with your attorney will tell you to :
• Don’t follow your doctor’s orders if you see no improvements or if your condition gets worse because of his/ her actions.
• Don’t wait if you feel like you need additional health care.
• Don’t wait until your health is at risk or if you feel like it.
• Do not wait because your doctor told you to, the most important thing is your health, so if you feel like they are not doing a good job, leave.
Those things are called “Mitigating Damages”, when it comes to a medical malpractice, both the patient and the doctor will be as carefully reviewed as possible, in order to avoid any legal mistakes, many cases can turn out in the favor of the doctor, thus the judges must be sure they make the right call. The Judges must be sure that you are not committing a fraud by making your illness or injury with the purpose of winning the trial. If you ever need different health care, you SHOULD get it as fast as possible
There are some instances where you can take your first injury or illness to trial against the doctor, but the injuries that happen while you are waiting can not be a part of the trial. If those new injuries happen, they will be a part of your own responsibility.
If you have an attorney besides you from the start, it will help your case more and may prevent some problems that can come in time.
A misdiagnosis is not good for any of the parts, but sometimes mistakes can happen, even if you are very careful. In order to reduce some of the risks of you getting misdiagnosed, you can :
• Ask questions if your health is not getting better.
• Ask for a second opinion of another doctor, or at least ask your doctor to review the results again.
• Write down indications, terms, notes, directions and / or anything that you don’t understand, this may prevent confusion and wrong diagnosis.
• Ask : are there any possible diagnosis so I can switch the treatment if needed ?
• Find a doctor that has good reviews or ask for recommendations.
• Make an appointment with a specialist in your pain area.
What To Do If You Think You Were Misdiagnosed
In some hospitals, malpractice cases that include misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis or both can be more common than you might think.
Only you can know how you feel, no one else does. If your condition is not getting better pr if you feel that something is off, you should trust yourself. There are two options, you can either go to the same doctor and explain the additional symptoms or you can go to another doctor and get a second opinion.
Depending on where you live, you have 2 to 6 years to bring medical malpractice to light and make the doctor pay for his actions.
Below we have some steps and topics that you and read in order to prepare yourself for the process that is going to come, and in order to know when you need to seek professional help.
How Do I Sue My Doctor And What Is The Process ?
•First of all, you need to consult with an attorney that is specialized in medical malpractice, this should be free of charge, you should ask him if you would be able to win a case with your problem and if it does not exceed the time limit.
• You need to find a trustworthy law firm that has experience with medical malpractice.
• You need to let them know your name and phone number, and to give them all the details you have about your case.
Lawyers will give you some legal advice on how to pursue the case.
But you need to keep in mind the fact that you don’t have a client-attorney relationship if you didn’t hire that attorney.
How Can You Prove A Misdiagnosis ? 4 Keys
If you want to sue as negligence or misdiagnosis, you should have those 4 key-elements : damages, causation, breach and duty.
Is the doctor’s job to care for you ?
Usually, if you have a doctor-patient connection, the doctor needs to act as reasonable as possible
How To Know If The Doctor Breach The Duty
Just because he misdiagnosed you or your illness, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he wasn’t careful or reckless. In order to be counted as a breach of duty, you need to be able to prove that a different doctor would have been able to diagnose you correctly in a reasonable way.
What If A Misdiagnosis Caused You Damages ?
It’s possible that the doctor misdiagnosed you with migraines instead of the flu, but he prescribed you Tylenol, which also helped cure your flu without causing any damages. That means that you did not suffer because of the misdiagnosis, thus you did not have any damages.
After this, you may need to gather the necessary paperwork that shows diagnostic errors or some medical errors that happened to you at the hospital or at a doctor appointment.
Should You Start A Medical Malpractice Case ?
The reasons of the misdiagnosis can vary. It’s possible that the doctor made a mistake, he didn’t listen to you, or that you didn’t tell him an essential part of your symptoms or of your medical history.
However, in the end, the reason of the happening doesn’t really mater, getting better is the most important thing. It is possible, and in some cases even likely that you will die or have life-long damages because you didn’t get the right answer.
You need to receive the right medical attention before searching for an attorney and see if you have a malpractice case or not. You have the right of having competent doctors, that’s why suing your doctor, even if you like him, may be a necessary thing.
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