A doctor is the first person you see when you feel unwell. You expect your doctor to diagnose your injury or disease and treat you for it accordingly so you can start feeling better soon. And most doctors are extremely committed to making their patients feel better. However, in some cases, a doctor may misdiagnose a patient. It’s an unfortunate event for a doctor, and they don’t necessarily mean to do it, but they still can make errors, as they’re humans too.
The question that you may want an answer to is whether you can sue a doctor for misdiagnosis. The answer to this question is yes, you can!
However, suing a doctor for misdiagnosis isn’t so simple. Just because a doctor misdiagnosed your condition or delayed the diagnosis doesn’t mean they’ll have to pay for the consequences, especially if the incorrect diagnosis didn’t cause you any harm. You’ll need to consult a personal injury attorney to see if you even have a case.
This blog post will help you understand misdiagnosis and when you can sue your doctor for it.
What is a Misdiagnosis?
Misdiagnosis falls under medical malpractice, where a doctor fails to diagnose the condition correctly, delays the diagnosis, doesn’t give a diagnosis when they could have, or mistreat your condition. Misdiagnosis can have serious consequences for the patient, including:
- The actual condition that goes undiagnosed and untreated worsens that requires more extensive and costlier treatment
- Misdiagnosis leads to the patient’s death
A misdiagnosis doesn’t always mean the doctor wasn’t vigilant or loyal to their job. Sometimes it could be due to the complexity of symptoms and poor clarity of clinical findings that results in a misdiagnosis. But most of the time, it’s due to the doctor’s negligence or incompetency that results in a misdiagnosis.
Suing Your Doctor for Misdiagnosis
If a misdiagnosis hasn’t caused you or your loved one any harm, you may not take it too seriously, but if it has resulted in your or your loved one’s condition worsening or, worse, death, you’ll want to know if you can sue your doctor for a misdiagnosis and what’s the procedure for it.
Yes, you can sue your doctor for misdiagnosis.
You can file a lawsuit against your doctor under the Medical Malpractice Civil Law. These lawsuits come under the civil category and not under the criminal law category. However, if a purposeful misdiagnosis has caused death, it may be considered a crime and may be categorized under criminal law.
Some of the reasons why a doctor may end up misdiagnosing a patient’s condition include the following:
- Failure of the doctor to conduct a thorough clinical examination
- The doctor misinterpreted the clinical reports and imaging studies
- They didn’t perform a thorough investigation of symptoms and medical history
- The doctor didn’t refer the patient to a specialist when they should have
- Let’s look into the details of the different types of misdiagnoses that you can sue your doctor for:
Failure to Diagnose the Condition Correctly on Time
If a patient is suffering from a serious illness that needs immediate treatment, but the doctor fails to make a diagnosis in time, and this delay results in the patient’s death, you can sue the doctor. You can file a lawsuit and demand full compensation for the damages you had to bear, including emotional and physical damage (pain and suffering), hospitalization expenses, and other miscellaneous damages throughout the process.
Let’s say a doctor diagnosed a patient with jaundice when the patient was actually at a critical stage of liver failure; you can sue your doctor for an incorrect diagnosis. Your case would be stronger if the incorrect diagnosis led you to undergo surgeries and other medical complications that could have been avoided if the doctor had diagnosed the condition correctly.
Sometimes, the doctor may assume common symptoms to be severe and recommend patients undergo surgeries. For example, you go to the emergency complaining about severe abdominal pain, and the doctor straightway suggests an appendix removal surgery, and it turns out that your appendix wasn’t infected at all and it was just kidney stones that were causing the pain. In this case, you can sue your doctor because they made you go through additional pain and additional expenses.
Administration of Wrong Medication
If a doctor has given an incorrect diagnosis, they’ll also prescribe the wrong medication, which can have serious side effects. A doctor may also give you higher doses than what you need for your condition. Another possibility is a doctor prescribing medication that interacts with another medicine the patient is taking, resulting in serious complications. All of these cases can have a detrimental impact on the patient’s body, and you can sue the doctor for it.
How to Sue a Doctor for Misdiagnosis?
If your condition has worsened or you haven’t gotten better after the treatment, and you think that your doctor may have misdiagnosed your condition, the first thing that you need to do is visit a medical malpractice lawyer. The lawyer will be able to tell you whether or not you’ve got a valid case against your doctor. The most important thing here is to wait for at least 6 months for the consequences of misdiagnosis to appear. You can do it sooner if the misdiagnosis has worsened your condition. Also, remember that you’ve got to file a lawsuit within 2 years of misdiagnosis.
Some of the factors that you must consider to see whether your case against your doctor is valid or not include the following:
- Did your doctor act as a responsible and competent doctor during the course of misdiagnosis?
- Or did the doctor breach his duty, and could another competent doctor have diagnosed the condition correctly?
- Did the misdiagnosis cause you harm?
- Did the misdiagnosis lead to any damage?
If the answer to these questions is a yes, you can most definitely sue your doctor for misdiagnosis.
Educating yourself about personal injury law and medical malpractice law will help you take up your case better. You can get some help from the One Spirit legal blog!