Missed diagnoses and delayed diagnoses are the major cause of medical malpractice in America. According to the Washington Post, missed diagnoses and delayed diagnoses account for almost 30 percent of successful malpractice claims and 35 percent of all money paid out. In many cases, a missed diagnosis can contribute to death, specifically when the patient is suffering from cancer, heart attacks, appendicitis, or meningitis. Incorrect diagnoses are the cause of 39 percent of malpractice related deaths and cause the deaths of 40,000-80,000 Americans every year.
Despite the medical community’s attention to this issue, it continues to be a very big and very deadly problem. Sometimes a delayed diagnosis causes no harm, but when it results in greater amounts of treatment, more expensive treatment, or death, there may be grounds for a malpractice claim. If you suffered because of a missed diagnosis or a delayed diagnosis, you should contact a malpractice attorney right away. At Bighorn Law, we can help you get the justice that you deserve.
Medical Malpractice and Negligence
Whenever you are the victim of a costly misdiagnosis, you should always investigate what happened. However, you also need to remember that just because you were misdiagnosed it does not mean that it was an example of malpractice. Medical malpractice only occurs after an act of negligence. For a doctor to have been negligent, he must have failed to exercise reasonable care in the situation or failed to act the way an average doctor would have acted in the same situation. What this means is that you will need to prove that although your doctor missed the diagnosis, an average doctor would not have missed it.
The standard for proving negligence is so high because courts understand how difficult the medical practice is. Even if a mistake was made, if the doctor did all he reasonably could have been expected to do, he is not guilty of negligence.
In a diagnostic malpractice case, proving negligence is done by examining your doctor’s diagnosis method. Typically, a doctor will start by creating a list of possible diagnoses. As he gets more information from you and runs tests, he will eliminate potential diagnoses until there is one or two that are most likely.
To prove negligence, you will have to show that he made an unusual error in his diagnostic method. For example, if your doctor left a diagnosis off his list that an average doctor would have placed on the list, it could be an example of negligence. In addition, if your doctor failed to ask for tests or questions that an average doctor would have used to properly diagnose you, it might also be an example of negligence.
Cause of Injury
After you are able to establish that your doctor did not act in a reasonably competent way, you will have to prove causation, which means that you will have to prove that the missed diagnosis is the cause or contributed to your injury. If a correct diagnosis would not have led to a better outcome, you might not be awarded damages.