You can sue for a misdiagnosis if your physician provides the wrong prognosis for your illness or injury. You may have grounds to pursue legal recourse for malpractice. But to err is human, and this applies to the field of medicine, too. Under Florida law, medical negligence does not account for all diagnostic errors.
A misdiagnosis becomes malpractice when evidence shows that another doctor who underwent the same training could have concluded the right diagnosis with the same information. Wrong diagnoses can have disastrous consequences. It can:
- Worsen your condition
- Expose you to the wrong medical treatment
- Delay the start of the right treatment which, in serious medical conditions like cancer, could mean life or death
- Increase your medical expenses
If you have been a victim of misdiagnosis, you may be eligible to receive compensation to cover your damages. A medical malpractice attorney can review your case to determine if you have a valid malpractice claim in your hands and assist you in seeking a fair settlement.
What Is a Misdiagnosis?
Misdiagnosis is a preventable medical error in which a physician diagnoses a patient with a condition they do not have. For example, diagnosing Lyme disease as flu. In the U.S., it is estimated that 12 million people are misdiagnosed annually: that’s 1 in 20 adult patients.
A misdiagnosis by itself isn’t malpractice because even competent doctors can make diagnostic errors. Typically, doctors conduct patient examinations and extensive medical testing to diagnose a condition. However, sometimes mistakes are made for non-negligent reasons. For example, some diseases share similar symptoms, as is the case with heart attack and a few respiratory diseases. So, a doctor may accidentally misdiagnose heart failure with a disease like pneumonia.
In most cases, misdiagnosis just results in temporary frustration. However, in other cases, the administered treatment makes the patient worse, or the delay in delivering the appropriate treatment results in the progression of the condition.
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How Can I Prove a Misdiagnosis Claim?
To prove a misdiagnosis, you must demonstrate the four elements of medical malpractice:
- Duty of care: The claim must establish an existing physician-patient relationship between the claimant and the defendant. If you’re seeking treatment from a physician, they must legally provide you with the same standard of care that another doctor with similar training, specialty, and in the same geographical area would provide.
- Breach of duty: The physician failed to follow standard medical procedures. Even if it results in harm, a mistake doesn’t always signify a breach of duty. You must show that, when exposed to the same condition, another doctor with the same or similar specialization would have concluded the correct diagnosis when your doctor didn’t.
Some ways a physician could breach their duty of care include:
- Not performing the right tests to arrive at the correct diagnosis
- Prescribing the wrong medication
- Not recognizing symptoms of a medical condition
Sometimes, incorrect lab results may be the culprit for a misdiagnosis. This could be due to human error or broken medical equipment. The medical technician, the hospital, or other medical entities can also be held liable in such cases.
- Causation: Demonstrating causation plays a huge role in deciding the fate of a medical malpractice case. For this, you must prove the wrong prognosis resulted in the injury getting worse than it would have if the correct prognosis had been given. There are two types of causation:
- Direct cause: Prove that the physician’s actions were directly responsible for your misdiagnosis.
- Proximate cause: Prove that the physician’s actions were closely responsible for your misdiagnosis even if other factors contributed to it.
- Damages: You must demonstrate that you suffered actual physical, emotional, and financial harm because of the misdiagnosis.
A medical malpractice lawyer can investigate all aspects of your claim to uncover evidence that shows negligence on the part of the healthcare professional who misdiagnosed you. This is done by obtaining and analyzing:
- Medical records, test results, evidence of medical treatments
- Obtaining testimonials from other medical professionals with similar training, background, and experience
- Investigating past malpractice claims or complaints toward the defendant
Which Health Conditions Are Commonly Misdiagnosed?
Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases, according to AARP:
- Lupus: misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, or fibromyalgia
- Parkinson’s disease: misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s, stroke, or traumatic head injury
- Fibromyalgia: misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis or chronic fatigue syndrome
- Lyme’s disease: misdiagnosed as flu, depression, or meningitis
- Multiple sclerosis: misdiagnosed as lupus, bipolar disorder, or Alzheimer’s disease
- Celiac disease: misdiagnosed as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome: misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, lupus, arthritis, or sinus infection
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If a medical professional failed to provide a diagnosis or gave an incorrect prognosis which resulted in worsening your health condition, you may be entitled to compensation. Under Florida Statutes § 95.11(4)(b), you have two years from discovering the incident to pursue legal action for medical negligence.
Call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine at 1-800-747-3733 for a free case review with our legal team. We will evaluate all aspects of your case and guide you through your legal options.
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