When doctors fail to diagnose their patient’s condition properly, it can be incredibly damaging to the patient’s physical health and psychological well-being.
Further, misdiagnosing some conditions, such as cancer or sepsis can have deadly consequences. Patients and their families may wonder, is misdiagnosis medical malpractice? The answer depends on the facts of the case and the applicable law.
Dempsey Kingsland & Osteen advocates for clients who have been injured because of negligent doctors, hospitals, nurses, and other healthcare providers.
We understand our clients’ pain, and we tirelessly work to achieve the best outcome under the circumstances.
What Do I Need to Prove in a Malpractice Lawsuit for Misdiagnosis?
Proving a medical malpractice lawsuit for misdiagnosis requires the injured party (you) to establish the elements of negligence.
The basis of negligence is that someone owed you a duty of care and failed to meet it, causing you an injury. In addition to requiring injured patients to prove these elements, Missouri law also mandates that they ask a third-party healthcare provider to certify the merits of the medical malpractice case and submit an affidavit when a lawsuit is filed.
To accomplish this, you can talk to a qualified medical professional or consult an attorney who regularly practices in this area of law. They will know a medical professional who periodically serves as an expert in these cases.
Your Medical Team Owed You a Duty of Care
Your first task is to show that your medical team owes you a duty of care. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other healthcare institutions and workers owe their patients a duty of care to follow standard practices and procedures when diagnosing, examining, and treating patients.
To show that your doctor or healthcare provider owed you a duty of care, you must show that you were one of their patients at the time of your injury.
The Medical Team Did Not Meet Their Duty of Care
The second element you must prove is that the healthcare provider’s actions fell below the applicable standard of care.
It can be beneficial to call on experts to help you prove this element by explaining what a reasonable and qualified doctor would have done under the circumstances—i.e., the applicable standard of care.
For example, suppose you exhibited classic and obvious signs of a particular illness that your doctor ignored. If your doctor ignored key symptoms and did not properly examine you, it is likely that their actions fell below the standard of care for healthcare professionals.
The Medical Team’s Misdiagnosis Caused or Worsened Your Injury
Next, you are tasked with proving that the misdiagnosis caused or worsened your injury. You can do this by showing evidence of what your physical condition was before seeing your doctor and the decline in your health following the misdiagnosis.
For example, if your doctor fails to diagnose a severe bacterial infection, you can show that your condition significantly worsened due to that failure.
Another approach to the “causation” element is to show that, had your doctor acted differently, you might not have experienced the condition, or it might not have been as severe.
You Suffered Damages
Finally, you must show evidence of damages or harm. These can be physical damages, such as the need for emergency medical care or surgery.
Or they can be financial, such as medical bills or lost wages. Missouri law also allows medical malpractice victims to request compensation for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.
Common Medical Malpractice Misdiagnosis Cases
According to a 2019 peer-reviewed study published in the medical journal, Diagnosis, misdiagnoses occur with alarming frequency.
The study revealed that diagnostic errors accounted for about 28.7% of the medical malpractice claims in the United States between 2006 and 2015, with 53% (or 7,379) of the misdiagnosis claims studied resulting in patient death.
The study revealed that 74.1% of the claims concerned misdiagnosis of cancer (37.8%), vascular events (22.8%), and infections 13.5%.
All three have a high risk of permanent disability, severe illness, and death. Other common medical malpractice misdiagnosis cases include stroke and sepsis.
Is Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice?
Misdiagnosis could constitute medical malpractice if you can prove the elements of negligence existed at the time.
For example, if your doctor ignored vital information about your condition and that led to the misdiagnosis, you could have a case for medical malpractice.
Likewise, if your doctor did not follow the proper procedure in making the diagnosis, their actions may amount to medical malpractice.
The key questions are what your doctor knew and what a reasonable and competent doctor would have done in the same situation.
Further, you must show that, had your doctor taken a different course of action, it would have made a difference in your condition. You can accomplish this by consulting medical experts and asking them to render an opinion in your case.
Is Failure to Diagnose Malpractice?
Is Failure to Diagnose Malpractice? Failure to diagnose could constitute medical malpractice if it results from negligence, and you can prove the elements of negligence as discussed above.
If you can show that a reasonably competent doctor would have followed the proper medical procedures and that those procedures would have led to a proper diagnosis, your doctor’s actions could be classified as medical malpractice.
Dempsey Kingsland & Osteen: Medical Malpractice Attorneys Serving Missouri
Throughout our decades in practice, we have helped hundreds of clients pursue justice and receive the compensation and closure they need to move forward.
We have recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of medical malpractice victims, including for instances of misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose.
We have two medical professionals on staff who have worked with us for decades to help us effectively understand the medical aspects of our clients’ cases.
When you hire our firm, you are supported and cared for by a compassionate team of experts and legal professionals.