Medical Negligence Misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis is one of the most detrimental forms of medical malpractice because it has the potential to cause so many varied and dangerous health consequences. Patients may be given the wrong medications or treatments, presenting them with unnecessary risks (especially with unnecessary surgeries). Misdiagnosis also causes a delay in treatment of the original problem, which may develop into a much more serious problem.
When we go to the hospital, we are putting our lives in the hands of the doctors. We expect to receive proper diagnosis, treatment, and instructions, and we expect to be kept up to speed and informed about what is happening. Unfortunately, doctors do not always diagnose ailments correctly. This can have serious repercussions and can undermine the rest of the medical process.
Many medical malpractice lawsuits are based on failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis of an illness or injury. Misdiagnosis is not always considered medical malpractice, and not all diagnostic errors result in a successful lawsuit. Even extremely experienced and competent physicians make diagnostic mistakes. In order for malpractice to be actionable, the misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose must lead to improper medical care, delayed treatment, or no treatment, which in turn must lead in a deterioration of the patient’s medical condition.
In order to determine whether or not you have been diagnosed correctly, you should watch for certain signs of misdiagnosis after treatment has begun. If you notice any of the following after you have undergone a surgery or have started taking a prescription medication, then you may have been misdiagnosed:
- You don’t seem to be getting better in the expected time frame
- You diagnosis is based purely on lab results or on one single factor
- Your doctor seems to be attributing common ailments and complaints to a specific, uncommon, or serious illness
- Your symptoms don’t seem to match the diagnosis you have been given
- Your doctor references a test you have never been given when he or she explains your diagnosis
If you have experienced any of the above mentioned warning signs, you need to talk to your doctor as quickly as possible to make sure that your health is taken care of. After that, contact a Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer to being the process of pursuing the compensation you deserve.
Typical Misdiagnosis Scenarios
While there are as many potential misdiagnosis scenarios as there are diseases and other health issues, the following are some of the most common types of misdiagnosis:
- bronchitis (often misdiagnosed as recurring bronchitis)
- melanoma (misdiagnosis can lead to painful, debilitating and unnecessary treatment like chemotherapy and radiation)
- staph infection (may be misdiagnosed as common flu)
- stroke (may be dismissed as migraine or other comparatively minor issue, especially in younger patients)
- heart attack (can be mistaken for indigestion, panic attack, or other issue)
- Inflammation of lymph nodes (can be mistaken for appendicitis)
Dangers of Misdiagnosis
The medical system is set up so that patients can make decisions about how to handle their health based on being well-informed about what they have, what their options are, and how they will affect them. A problem cannot be dealt with if it is not properly identified. Everything that comes after the diagnosis, including selection of treatment, receipt of treatment, and recovery, is thrown off and made invaluable or even harmful if the proper diagnosis is not made by a doctor.
The patient is in a position where they have to make decisions based on the information they receive from the doctor. If this information is not accurate, they cannot make the decisions that are best for their health. This can have disastrous consequences, as it can lead to not treating the actual problem because it was not identified, or receiving treatment for a condition that the patient does not have.
Can You Sue a Doctor for Misdiagnosis?
In most cases, doctors are successful in providing proper care to their patients. However, one out of every twenty people diagnosed with a medical condition may be misdiagnosed, resulting in injuries caused by the doctors’ negligence. If a doctor incorrectly diagnoses you, you can sue them under medical malpractice civil tort law. A doctor’s failure to diagnose a patient suffering from a specific disease may result in delayed or incorrect treatment, resulting in severe complications or death.
A medical malpractice lawsuit will only be successful if you can demonstrate that you were harmed as a result of a misdiagnosis in a doctor-patient relationship.