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Medical Malpractice: When a Doctor Fails to Diagnose

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A doctor’s failure to properly diagnose a patient can be grounds for a medical malpractice suit, but not all misdiagnoses are necessarily considered medical malpractice. 

Let us help you understand if you or a loved one has claim to a medical malpractice suit.

Types of Diagnosis Errors

First of all, there are a few different types of misdiagnoses. A doctor could:

  • Fail to diagnose a health issue even when symptoms are present and apparent
  • Diagnose a health issue in a delayed manner
  • Misdiagnose the issue entirely, or fail to take other health issues into account during
  • treatment
  • Fail to make a second diagnosis, if applicable

While even the best doctors occasionally make mistakes, if they did not do their due diligence, it could be considered medical malpractice.

 

Making a Medical Malpractice Claim

To make a claim, there are certain qualifications that are required for a successful malpractice suit. First, there needs to be an established doctor-patient relationship wherein the doctor failed to meet the expected standard of care. Second, the failure to properly diagnose must lead to injury or exacerbated health issues.

If it is determined that a claim should be made, there is certain information that the plaintiff needs in order to make their case. As part of the methodology of diagnosing a patient, a doctor makes a list of possible diagnoses and tests them by asking the patient questions or ordering the appropriate tests. The plaintiff must show that the doctor did not do their due diligence either by not including the right diagnosis on the list, or by not ordering the appropriate tests to arrive to the correct conclusion. Furthermore, the plaintiff must show that a reasonable doctor would not have made the same mistake, which will require an expert opinion.

 

Things to Keep in Mind While Filing a Claim 

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There are some other factors to keep in mind when considering a malpractice suit. Occasionally, it is the fault of another doctor, lab technician, or hospital staff that lead to incorrect test results or reporting that could ultimately lead to a misdiagnosis. In that case, that staff member or the hospital themselves could be held liable. Additionally, if a misdiagnosis happens in an emergency room setting, there are often more protections for doctors as they are in a high-stress situation that does not allow for as much testing or question-asking as a non-emergency room setting does. Additionally, doctors themselves cannot be held liable in emergency room malpractice suits, so the hospital would be the defendant.  

Remember, each state has different laws regarding the statute of limitations on medical malpractice suits. In Florida, the cap for non-economic damages awarded for pain and suffering is set at $1 million. Additionally, a suit must be filed within four years of the malpractice incident occurring. This is why it is so important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after an incident of medical malpractice.

 

If you believe you’ve been involved in medical malpractice, be sure to contact The Law Firm of Cohen & Cohen today to see how we can help. 

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