When you go to a doctor, you trust that they will be able to diagnose your condition and prescribe the appropriate treatment. Doctors are human, though, and sometimes they get it wrong. They may misinterpret your symptoms, or the symptoms may point to a number of different possibilities. Sometimes they may get back faulty information from a lab or other medical partner. Simply put, misdiagnoses happen sometimes. The question is often whether the misdiagnosis is malpractice and whether it should lead to a legal action. Below are three questions to ask to determine whether a suit is warranted:
Did the misdiagnosis harm you in some way? This is the first and most important criteria to consider. In order to take legal action for malpractice, you must have suffered some level of physical or financial harm. Perhaps you suffered in pain or with a lower quality of life for an extended period, or maybe you spent thousands of dollars on treatment for a condition that you really didn't have. Maybe the real condition grew worse because you were being treated for something different.
These are real forms of harm that can warrant a lawsuit. However, if you simply suffered frustration or stress because of the misdiagnosis, a court may not be willing to hear your case. Think carefully about what damage you suffered and how it warrants legal action.
Did the doctor have all the necessary information? In order to hold a doctor legally responsible for misdiagnosis, you have to be certain that he or she had all the information necessary to make the correct diagnosis. For example, did you provide a thorough and accurate breakdown of your symptoms? Were you accurate and forthcoming about your health history? Did the doctor have access to your medical records? If the doctor didn't have all the necessary information, you likely can't hold them liable.
Also, it may be possible that the lab or another medical partner provided the doctor with misinformation. If this is the case, you may still be able to file a suit, but you may need to direct it at the other party.
Was the doctor negligent? This is often the most important question in any malpractice case, and it sometimes doesn't have a clear answer. This question usually relates to the medical "standard of care." That is, would another doctor with similar information have made the same diagnosis? Did the doctor properly examine all possible diagnoses and eliminate options in a logical manner?
For instance, if a doctor overlooked an obvious symptom that points to a condition, that could be negligence. If he or she made a diagnosis even though lab results suggested something different, that could be negligence.
Ultimately, malpractice can be a very complicated issue. You may find it helpful to consult with a medical malpractice attorney from a law firm like R.J. Marzella & Associates, P.C. They can review the case and help you decide whether to move forward with legal action.