How to Handle Medical Misdiagnoses
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on August 7, 2021
What is Misdiagnosis?
Misdiagnosis, or failure to diagnose an illness or injury, is one of the most common errors in the medical field. Approximately 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed every year, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
For most people, misdiagnoses lead to physical, financial, and psychological complications. In cases of misdiagnosis, the patient often receives harmful treatment or fails to receive the treatment they actually need. This results in a pileup of unnecessary medical bills and continued suffering for the patient.
As an injury law firm experienced with misdiagnosis cases in the state of Kentucky and southern Indiana, we have a clear understanding of how to handle these situations. Follow along for helpful tips on what to do if you are the victim of a medical misdiagnosis.
What to Do if You Suspect Misdiagnosis
1. Consult a second opinion
If you think you have suffered from misdiagnosis, it is best to consult a second medical opinion. Receiving opinions from multiple doctors can confirm the diagnosis, better define it, or reveal a previous diagnostic error.
2. Keep a record of how the misdiagnosis has harmed you
In cases of medical misdiagnosis, there must be evidence of how the patient was harmed by the doctor’s negligence. Receiving dangerous treatment, paying unnecessary medical expenses, or worsening of the patient’s health condition, are all examples of documentation needed for a misdiagnosis case.
3. Be aware of the statute of limitations
As with any type of lawsuit, you need to be aware of the time limit on the case. With medical misdiagnosis, the statute of limitations would start after the initial misdiagnosis was discovered. In Kentucky, the statute of limitations is one year, meaning you need to file the case within one year after discovering the misdiagnosis. In Indiana, it is two years.
4. Seek an experienced medical malpractice attorney
Misdiagnosis is considered medical malpractice and, in some cases, you can receive compensation. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can explain your legal rights and responsibilities in complex malpractice cases.
Legal Process for Misdiagnosis
Similar to the majority of medical malpractice cases, there are a few necessary elements needed to establish your case:
1. Proving a doctor/patient relationship.
By proving a professional medical relationship, this illustrates that the doctor owed you a certain standard of medical care. Usually this means that the patient needs to show that a different doctor in the same field would not have misdiagnosed their illness. This demonstrates that the negligent doctor did not live up the medical standard of care.
2. Establish negligence by the doctor.
This is needed to show that the doctor failed to provide adequate care and treatment. This can require providing an expert witness like another medical professional who can help support your case.
3. Prove how you suffered as a result of the doctor’s negligence.
This is where the documents and records of your medical records and bills are needed. These records need to show your complete medical history, including the initial reported symptoms, medical consultations, and tests and medications prescribed by the doctor. Also record any time taken off work (loss of income) as a result of the medical error, medical expenses, and documentation of the pain and suffering. This will act as a paper trail and create a timeline of the case.
The Cost of Misdiagnosis
In some cases, misdiagnosis can lead to long-term suffering or even death. Anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 people die from medical diagnoses every year. While not every case is this serious, it is critical that people receive the compensation they deserve as a result of the financial, physical, and emotional stress caused by misdiagnosis.
If you or someone you love is the victim of a medical misdiagnosis, and you are located in Kentucky or southern Indiana, the experienced team at Cooper & Friedman PLLC can help. Our team has decades of combined experience fighting for the rights of injury victims, and we’ve recovered millions of dollars for seriously injured people. For additional details, or to schedule a free consultation with an injury attorney, call 502-459-7555 today.