Failure to Properly Diagnose a Medical Condition
From a young age, we're taught to trust the advice of doctors. But just like everyone else, doctors make mistakes. In fact, a study by the Mayo Clinic found that over 20% of patients who visited a primary care physician were misdiagnosed. Generally, a misdiagnosis doesn't have severe consequences on a patient's overall health. Sometimes, however, a doctor can fail to diagnose a life-threatening condition in which an early diagnosis is critical for effective treatment. The team at Leav & Steinberg LLP have years of experience handling cases that involve failure to diagnose and other medical malpractice issues.
When Can You Sue a Doctor for a Misdiagnosis?
Like other medical malpractice claims, misdiagnosis cases rest on proving that a doctor acted negligently when failing to connect a patient's symptoms to a severe health condition by not ordering the proper tests or not thoroughly reviewing their medical history. The severity of a failure to diagnose increases when a doctor fails to make a timely diagnosis that delays the treatment of cancer, a stroke, or other serious medical condition, causing serious complications or death. The basis for a failure to diagnose claim has four requirements:
- Establishing that there was a doctor-patient relationship
- Proving that the doctor did not provide the required standard of care
- Showing that were damages suffered by the patient (physical, emotional, financial, etc.)
- Demonstrating that the doctor's negligence directly caused the patient's damages
In the state of New York, the statute of limitations for filing a failure to diagnose claim was changed in 2018 to be two and a half years (30 months) after realizing that there has been a misdiagnosis.
Failure to diagnose extends beyond doctors and their medical facilities. Negligence can also occur when an insurance company refuses to provide coverage for testing or follow-up care. Insurance companies have been found liable when they stop a patient from getting the treatment they need to identify the medical condition that their symptoms and medical history indicate.
Types of Misdiagnosis Malpractice Cases
There are numerous causes for failures to diagnose a patient properly. Most misdiagnoses fall into the following categories:
- Wrong diagnosis: A wrong diagnosis occurs when a doctor diagnoses a patient with a disease that they are not suffering from. For example, incorrectly diagnosing a patient who complains of chest pains with heartburn instead of a heart condition.
- Delayed diagnosis: Sometimes, a doctor will accurately diagnose a patient's condition but only after a delay that negatively affects their ability to recover.
- Missed diagnosis: This refers to a patient being told that there's nothing wrong with them when they're actually suffering from a serious illness.
- Failure to diagnose a related disease: This occurs when a doctor accurately diagnoses a condition but doesn't recognize that a patient is suffering from another, more severe illness that's linked to the initial medical issue.
Conditions That Are Commonly Misdiagnosed
Many diseases are almost impossible to detect without further testing or have wide-ranging symptoms that make it challenging to single them out. Because these illnesses are more difficult to detect, they are more likely to be involved in misdiagnosis cases. Here are a few of the issues that are most commonly misdiagnosed:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Misread mammograms
- Prostate cancer
- Skin cancer
- Colon cancer
- Strokes and heart attacks
- Multiple sclerosis
When to Pursue a Medical Malpractice Claim
As mentioned earlier, one of the requirements for filing a malpractice lawsuit is establishing that you were negatively affected by a doctor's misdiagnosis. Medical damages are often the initial basis of a claim. This includes cases in which a failure to diagnose prevented you or a loved one from seeking treatment early enough to keep a medical condition from becoming worse. Another type of damages is financial, including additional medical bills and follow-up care that wouldn't have been necessary if the doctor had made a timely and accurate diagnosis, as well as lost wages because of the extra time you've had to spend receiving medical treatment. Another common form of damages is psychological and involves emotional pain and suffering.
Contact Leav & Steinberg Today
If you or a loved one has suffered because a doctor failed to make a timely, accurate diagnosis, you should consult an attorney who has years of experience successfully handling malpractice claims. At Leav & Steinberg LLP, our legal team has a track record of helping clients in the New York area get the compensation they deserve. To see if your case is worth taking to court, call us for a free consultation at 212-766-5222.