Many people have the conception that medical malpractice cases are only for when a surgery goes terribly wrong, leaving the patient wounded or disfigured. The truth is that one of the most common reasons for filing a medical malpractice case is when a doctor incorrectly diagnoses or fails to diagnose a patient’s illness. When a patient does not receive the correct treatment they need, their condition often worsens, and may even lead to a wrongful death.
What is Failure to Diagnose?
When a doctor fails to correctly diagnose a condition, especially for serious illnesses like cancer, it creates incredible risk and danger for a patient. Many diseases need to be treated promptly in order to recover, and when a doctor sends a patient home and tells them to take an aspirin when they should be preventing a heart-attack or starting chemotherapy treatments, they may inadvertently sentencing that patient to death. This is what is known as “Failure to Diagnose”.
What is a Misdiagnosis?
Misdiagnosis has the potential to be even more harmful than a failure to diagnose. In addition to not getting the right treatment for their illness, a misdiagnosed patient will get treatment for an illness which they aren’t suffering from. This can lead to unnecessary and dangerous surgeries, or being prescribed medication with harmful side effects. When a doctor incorrectly diagnoses your condition, this is what is known as a “Misdiagnosis”.
Why Does Misdiagnosis and Failed Diagnosis Occur?
There are many reasons a doctor may misdiagnose or fail to diagnose a patient’s condition. Sometimes, the doctor being visited doesn’t practice the type of medicine the patient may actually need. Other times doctors don’t ask the correct questions, or jump to conclusions about your condition without proper consideration. Other times, a doctor might just be in a rush, or over-worked and tired, or just plain having a bad day. Doctors are people too, and everyone makes mistakes.
What Are My Rights if a Doctor Fails to Diagnose or Misdiagnoses My Condition?
While misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose are common, and serious, problems, not every victim of such an error has a medical malpractice case. In order to seek compensation for injuries suffered or the wrongful death of a loved one, a doctor must have been negligent in their duties when diagnosing the case in question. A medical malpractice court will consider the following factors when deciding a doctor’s negligence and responsibility:
- Duty – Doctors have a responsibility to provide their patients with a level of care consistent with the specific type of medicine that doctor practices, and where they practice it. So, an emergency room physician, who is expected to treat critically wounded patients, and send patients with more long-term illnesses to a specialist, will be held to a different standard than a doctor who practices oncology, the the study and treatment of tumors. If an ER doctor fails to diagnose your tumor, you may not have a medical malpractice case. If an oncologist fails to diagnose your tumor, you probably have a case.
- Violation of Duty – Violation of duty ties into what we discussed previously about a doctor’s duty. In order to show negligence on behalf of the doctor, you must show that they violated their duty to you as a patient.
- Harm – The next factor to consider when considering a medical malpractice case is that of harm. If you doctor misdiagnosed your condition, but by doing so didn’t actually cause you physical or emotional harm, you probably don’t have a medical malpractice case.
- Cause – The final thing you will need to prove is that the specific violation of duty directly lead to the harm you have experienced.
In order to successfully conclude a medical malpractice case, a great deal of things must be proven to a court. This is why it is so important to have an experienced Somerset County medical malpractice lawyer on your side. They can help you to prove a doctor’s duty, their violation of duty, and how it caused you harm. A medical malpractice lawyer will generally retain the services of various medical professionals who understand a patient’s condition, and can explain to a court exactly how and when a doctor lapsed in their duty to that patient.
Contact a Somerset County Misdiagnosis and Failed Diagnosis Attorney Today
If you are still unsure whether or not you have a medical malpractice case, or if you believe you do and would like to contact experienced legal representation, The Law Office of Brian J. Levine is ready to help you today. We practice exclusively medical malpractice and personal injury law, so we are intimately familiar with all of the steps, strategies, and pitfalls of medical malpractice cases. We have helped many clients across the Somerset County and Hunterdon County area to successfully recover compensation for the injuries they have suffered at the hands of negligent doctors and medical professionals.
To discuss your potential case with our medical malpractice team today in a free and confidential consultation, please contact us online or through our Somerville, NJ office at 908-524-0123. We take all medical malpractice cases on contingency, meaning our office covers all legal expenses associated with your case including hiring expert professionals to testify on your behalf until we win your case. If you or a loved one has suffered at the hands of an irresponsible physician, do not hesitate to contact our office and begin your defense today.