medical malpractice lawsuits derive from the
misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of an injury, illness, or another type of medical
condition. When a doctor’s diagnosis error results in incorrect
treatment, delayed treatment, or no treatment whatsoever, a patient’s
condition can worsen to possibly fatal proportions.
However, misdiagnosis or a diagnosis error on its own is not enough to
pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. The law does not hold doctors legally
liable for all diagnostic errors.
Rather, patients typically need to prove the following three things in
order to prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit based on a misdiagnosis:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed
- The doctor was negligent and did not provide treatment in a reasonably
competent and skillful manner
- The doctor’s negligence caused actual injury to the patient
The key to determining whether the doctor acted competently, which involves
looking at the “differential diagnosis” method the doctor
used in making decisions about treatments. It is a systematic method used
by doctors to identify a condition or disease in a patient, where the
doctor makes a list of diagnoses in order of probability. The doctor then
tests the strength or each diagnosis by making further medical observations
of the patient, asking questions regarding symptoms and medical history,
ordering tests, or referring the patients to specialists.
Ideally, various potential diagnoses will be ruled out as the investigation
progresses, and only one diagnosis will remain at the conclusion of the
process. However, that is not always the case. In many cases, the doctor
will find out new information which will result in adding to the differential
When it comes to a diagnostic error during the differential diagnosis,
the patient must prove that the doctor:
- Did not include the correct diagnosis on the differential diagnosis list,
and a reasonably skillful and competent doctor under similar circumstances
- Included the correct diagnosis on the differential diagnosis list, but
failed to perform appropriate tests or seek opinions from specialists.
Diagnostic Test Errors
Sometimes a doctor fails to diagnose a condition correctly due to an inaccurate
test result. This can occur if the diagnostic equipment was faulty or
if human error occurred. While a doctor may not be liable for medical
malpractice under these circumstances, another person might be to blame,
such as the technician or manufacturer of the device.
For more information,
contact our Orlando personal injury attorney at The Maher Law Firm today.