How Common are Misdiagnosis Lawsuits?

Physicians are among the most respected members of society, and there is good reason for that. In order to become a doctor, an individual is required to pursue both college and medical school and go through several years of rigorous training. It is this background and experience that inspires trust and leads us to seek their counsel when we have an injury or illness. Though the vast majority of medical appointments result in the correct treatment and diagnosis, there are unfortunate instances where physicians are negligent or careless. Misdiagnosing a malady or providing improper or insufficient treatment can lead to significant harm, and even to death. When this happens, those that have suffered are entitled to file a malpractice or misdiagnosis lawsuit.

There are several different types of medical malpractice lawsuits, but misdiagnosis lawsuits are the type most commonly filed. When a patient seeks a diagnosis, the physician is supposed to perform a process known as a differential diagnosis, where the patient’s symptoms are assessed against all of the possible diagnoses that match their symptoms and each is slowly eliminated based on whether other symptoms are present or the results of laboratory or diagnostic tests. In many cases, misdiagnosis is a result of an insufficient or careless differential diagnosis process. Physicians may omit potential causes of a patient’s symptoms or fail to order a needed test. Sometimes they do not review test results carefully enough and misinterpret them. Each of these lapses and many others can lead to a patient’s illness not receiving the timely treatment that is needed and their condition worsening. In some cases, patients are even treated for the wrong illness, which can create an entirely new set of problems while still leaving the original illness untreated.

The deadliest cases of misdiagnosis involve patients suffering from:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Heart attack
  • Infection
  • Cancer

In each of these types of illness, failure to respond quickly and appropriately can lead to emergent situations and death.

There is a notable difference between a case of medical malpractice or misdiagnosis and a simple mistake. Physicians are not considered infallible, but they are expected to respond to their patients’ needs in a way that is consistent with what is known as their “duty of care.” This is measured by how another physician would respond to a similar situation, and that is why misdiagnosis lawsuits so often rely upon the testimony of other physicians acting as expert witnesses. If you believe that you or someone you love has been a victim of misdiagnosis malpractice, our experienced attorneys will listen carefully to the details of what happened and provide you with our best advice as to your rights. Contact us today to set up a time for a free consultation.