Does a Misdiagnosis Constitute Medical Malpractice?
Not all diagnostic errors are medical malpractice. Even though doctors do sometimes make mistakes, not all mistakes are the result of negligence and not all errors lead to medical injuries. For a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis to be medical malpractice, the patient must be able to prove:
- Duty of care – there must have been a doctor-patient relationship.
- Breach in the duty of care – the doctor must have failed to provide a reasonable standard of medical care.
- The breach in the duty of care must have caused the medical injury.
- The injury and/or damages suffered must be directly related to the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
Even when taking reasonable care and steps to ensure the right diagnosis, a competent and experienced doctor can make a mistake. The important question is whether or not the health practitioner followed the correct procedure in the diagnosis process. Did the doctor analyse the test results? Did the practitioner review the patient’s medical history? Several such questions must be answered. Only if the requirements for malpractice are met can the patient claim damages for medical malpractice from the particular healthcare professional.
The Types of Damages Payable
The patient can claim compensation for present and past medical expenses, loss of life amenities, and past and future loss of earnings, as well as for pain and suffering.
Examples of Misdiagnosis
The doctor can, based on the test results, diagnose a patient with cancer, but not perform other tests to confirm the diagnosis when the patient might suffer from another condition. The doctor may fail to diagnose cancer simply because he/she does not call for tests and therefore does not take every necessary and reasonable step to ensure the correct diagnosis. Delayed diagnosis can also occur if the doctor first treats the patient for another condition over a long period of time before realising that there is a deeper cause for the problem.
The Complexity of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Where possible, the patient’s attorneys try to reach an agreement regarding a settlement amount with the defending party. But, failure to reach a settlement is not the end of the road. In such an instance, based on the merits of the medical malpractice case, the attorneys can, based on client instruction, initiate court proceedings against the defendant.
One has to keep in mind that court proceedings can take several years to conclude. However, with the help of experienced medical malpractice attorneys, it is possible to achieve a successful outcome and receive compensation that the patient deserves.
A large percentage of medical malpractice cases revolve around misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. If you believe that you are or have been the victim of medical malpractice related to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, seek immediate legal assistance. Call our team of attorneys to help you determine the merits of your case.
*This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Call on our attorneys for legal advice, rather than relying on the information herein to make any decisions. The information is relevant as at the date of publishing – May 2019.