Can I Sue a Hospital for an Inappropriate Diagnosis?

by | May 11, 2019 | Law attorney

If you feel that you have been the victim of acts of negligence in a hospital setting, it’s only natural to feel like you deserve some justice and compensation for the pain, conflict, and complications this may have caused you. These feelings are especially strong if you feel you have been misdiagnosed or given an inappropriate diagnosis. A consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer will help you gain a better understanding of where you stand legally when it comes to suing a hospital for negligence on the basis of a misdiagnosis or inappropriate diagnosis.

What is misdiagnosis?

A case of misdiagnosis could involve the following:

* A wrong diagnosis
* A missed diagnosis
* A delayed diagnosis
* A failure to recognize any changes that could complicate or aggravate a condition that already exists.

Misdiagnosis is not always black and white, either: Doctors can sometimes diagnose a specific condition correctly in a patient but can misdiagnose another condition or can fail to see and realize that a subsequent diagnosis needs to be made.

Criteria for a suit

Your medical malpractice lawyer will most likely tell you from the beginning that an inappropriate diagnosis or misdiagnosis alone is not a strong basis for a case. Not all diagnostic errors will create the grounds for a successful lawsuit.

In your case, there must be a resulting instance of a delay in treatment, improper care, or lack of treatment which results in the deterioration of the patient’s medical condition for the claims of medical malpractice to be actionable.

What has to be proven?

A patient who is bringing a misdiagnosis case is obligated to prove the following:

* A relationship existed between the patient and the doctor
* The doctor failed at meeting the standards of care when diagnosing the condition of the patient
* The doctor’s failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis clearly caused actual further injury or harm to the plaintiff.

Disputes in these kinds of cases are usually related to the two latter points, the standard of case and the causation of any subsequent injury and harm to the patient.

Expert opinions

When looking at the standards of care expected in a given situation, an expert opinion is usually required. This expert will examine the defendant’s differential diagnosis method.

This is the method used by doctors by which they list potential diagnoses in order of the probability that they are correct, and rules out diagnoses by asking the patient questions, making further patient observations, or performing tests until the diagnosis is clear to the doctor.

This method is not always as simple as it might sound, however, because often a patient’s answers to the set of questions the doctor is asking them will mean the doctor has to add more potential diagnoses to their list.

In order to prove misdiagnosis, the expert working on behalf of the plaintiff must prove that a doctor working in the same specialty as the defendant would not have misdiagnosed the injury or illness. This is usually proven by showing that the doctor did not include the correct diagnosis on the list of potential diagnoses (and showing that a competent doctor would have included it). Or, conversely, the expert must prove that the doctor may have listed the correct diagnosis on their list but failed to realize that it was the correct one.

Doctor or hospital error

Most of the time, suits like these are aimed at a specific medical professional. However, if the misdiagnosis is due to faulty test results (whether due to malfunctioning equipment or human error), either the technician who performed the tests or the hospital itself can be held liable.

Final thoughts

If you believe that the error in your diagnosis is able to be proven, it’s in your best interest to look into hiring a medical malpractice lawyer to help you get the compensation and justice you deserve.

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