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Misdiagnosis:  The most common medical malpractice lawsuit

Medical malpractice occurs when a patient suffers harm at the hands of a medical professional who failed to competently perform his or her medical duties.  Common medical malpractice cases include misdiagnosis, failure to treat an illness or injury, administration of the wrong medicine, or failure to properly inform the patient of risks and alternative treatments.

The most common medical malpractice claim is misdiagnosis.  In 2013, misdiagnoses accounted for between 26% and 63% of total malpractice claims.  The most common missed diagnoses in adult are heart attacks and cancer.

The key to surviving cancer is catching the disease before it spreads through the body.  Doctors perform tests to screen for cancer in the hopes of making an early diagnosis.  If there is even a small possibility of cancer, the doctor should refer you to the proper specialist for the necessary tests.

A misdiagnosis often has fatal results; between 15% and 48% of misdiagnosed cases result in death.  Doctors miss a cancer diagnosis by failing to recognize the signs of cancer, order the necessary screening tests, or attribute symptoms to another illness.

A failure to diagnose claim is difficult because proving negligence by the doctor is an uphill battle and it may take months or years for the case to reach a resolution.  A medical malpractice claim is viable only if you can prove your treating doctor fell below the standard of care.  The standard of care is the accepted method used by other medical professionals in the area to treat or care for patients under the same or similar circumstances.  An independent doctor must review your medical records and determine if your doctor fell below this standard.  You then must prove the doctor’s mistake caused your injury.

Preparing for a medical malpractice lawsuit is time consuming.  The most crucial aspect of a medical malpractice case is the date of the injury.  Gather information about the medical professional who caused your injury and the type of medical care provided at the time the negligence occurred.  Know when the medical care was provided and the date the injury occurred.  Document when you became aware of the injury and any additional treatment you received as a result of your doctor’s negligence.  Maintain accurate records of medical bills and expenses related to the injury.

If you’ve been injured by a medical professional’s negligence, a knowledgeable attorney can evaluate your case. The court may award damages for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering, and help prevent the same mistake with another patient.

 

  • Martha Neese is registered nurse and attorney. She can be contacted at (480) 704-0777 or [email protected]