Thousands of medical malpractice claims are brought every single year by patients who claim that their doctors misdiagnosed or failed to diagnose a health condition.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Doctors and other medical professionals are required to render treatment within the applicable standard of care. Not every adverse outcome in a patient’s treatment constitutes medical malpractice. Instead, a patient may have a viable claim for medical malpractice only when his or her health care provider (someone with whom the patient has a legal patient-provider relationship) fails to act in accordance with the applicable standard of care — usually defined as the actions that another reasonable medical professional of similar training and experience would have undertaken under identical circumstances — and this failure to render treatment comply with the standard of care causes the patient to suffer injury and incur compensable damages.
If a medical professional makes a decision or undertakes an action that other providers would do under the same circumstances, or if a provider’s mistake doesn’t cause the patient to suffer injury, there likely has been no medical malpractice.
Read more: Medical Malpractice & The Discovery Of Harm Rule
Why Doctors Miss Diagnoses
Medical conditions can often be hard to diagnose. Many conditions share the same list of symptoms but must be treated in wildly different ways. Doctors can fail to diagnose or misdiagnose medical conditions for any number of reasons, including:
- Failing to consider the correct diagnosis, or prematurely eliminating the correct diagnosis from consideration
- Failing to take a complete patient history
- Failing to conduct a thorough enough examination of the patient
- Failing to order tests, or misinterpreting the results of tests (tests may also be improperly conducted by laboratory and medical technicians)
- Failing to consult with or seek a second opinion from other doctors or specialists, especially when a potential condition is outside the treating doctor’s expertise
Read more: Is Lung Cancer Often Misdiagnosed?
When is a Missed Diagnosis Medical Malpractice?
Not every misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis is a sign of medical malpractice. In order for a patient to show that a misdiagnosis was the result of malpractice, the patient will need to demonstrate that other doctors in the same or a similar speciality and with the same training and experience would not have missed the patient’s correct diagnosis under the same circumstances. Usually, the patient will need to rely on the testimony of another doctor in the same or similar speciality as his or her physician to opine as to the applicable standard of care in the patient’s case and how the defendant physician’s care failed to comply with this standard.
The patient must also show that the misdiagnosis caused the patient to suffer some sort of harm. For example, harm or injury can include having to undergo additional treatment or more aggressive, painful, and/or expensive treatment than the patient would otherwise have undergone had his or her condition been properly diagnosed. If a condition is misdiagnosed, the patient may have also undergone treatments or procedures that he or she didn’t even need. And when diagnosis of a condition is delayed, the patient may miss out on a window of opportunity to receive treatment that could effectively treat the condition and return the patient to full health or even save the patient’s life. In order to prove that his or her doctor’s errors caused harm, the patient will often again rely on his or her medical expert’s testimony.
Read more: Second Opinions And Medical Malpractice
Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Misdiagnosis Case in Pennsylvania
Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Pittsburgh misdiagnosis attorneys at Berger & Lagnese, LLC are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout New Jersey, including Greensburg, Indiana, New Castle, and Uniontown. Call us today at (412) 471-4300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 310 Grant St., #720, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.