Medical malpractice may take multiple forms, but mistakes in making a proper diagnosis are some of the most devastating for the patient. Delays in identifying a medical condition or diagnosing the wrong illness mean the victim does not receive necessary, potentially life-saving care. This type of medical error is especially horrific because many forms of disease, particularly cancer, are likely treatable when discovered in time. An experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney can help you pursue your right to compensation if you are a victim of misdiagnosis, but some background information may also be useful.
Proof of Misdiagnosis
A medical malpractice case, including one resulting from a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, is similar to other types of personal injury matters. The claim is based upon negligence and failure to comply with a legal duty of care. However, there is a distinction in medical malpractice cases with respect to how negligence applies to the healthcare provider’s conduct. To establish your right to compensation, you must establish:
- The existence of a provider-patient relationship;
- Facts showing how the physician did not provide care in a reasonably competent manner; and,
- That the failure to provide appropriate care directly cause your injuries.
Establishing the first element is usually straightforward, as the relationship exists when a physician provides care through making a diagnosis. The other elements are more challenging because, on its own, misdiagnosis does not amount to a failure to provide reasonable care. The human body is a highly complex, so the focus in a misdiagnosis case is on the acts or omissions of the doctor in making the diagnosis. It is necessary to assess what a physician in the same specialty area, under the same circumstances, and with the same available facts, would do. If the end result of this process would be a proper diagnosis, there may be situation of medical malpractice.
Regarding the causation element, there must be a direct link between the misdiagnosis and your medical condition becoming more serious than it would be without the error. For example, the failure or delay in diagnosing cancer could make the otherwise likely treatable disease terminal. Liability is not so clear if you can still obtain a cure after the misdiagnosis or if your cancer is very advanced and there was not much of a delay in diagnosis.
Types of Misdiagnosis
There are many mistakes in diagnosis that could support a cause of action for medical malpractice, including:
- Wrong Diagnosis: A medical issue exists, but the doctor identifies the wrong one and sets the patient on an improper course of treatment;
- Delayed Diagnosis: The healthcare provider properly spots an injury or illness, but significant time has passed and treatment options are dubious;
- Failure to Recognize Complications: The doctor properly diagnoses a medical condition, but does not identify and treat related complications;
- Failure to Diagnose an Associated Condition: Other medical issues may arise from a properly diagnosed condition, but the physician fails to recognize them.
Legal Advice from an Experienced Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one due to a doctor’s misdiagnosis error, you may be able to recover compensation. Our medical malpractice lawyers at Piccin & Glynn, Attorneys at Law can help you understand your rights and explain your legal options. Please contact our Ocala, FL office at 352-581-6174 or visit us online to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.