Can I Sue a Doctor for a Misdiagnosis?
It is possible to sue a medical provider or facility for harm you’ve suffered due to a diagnostic error. However, it’s important to note that many factors need to be carefully considered before doing so. A misdiagnosis claim can be challenging to prove. It takes time and highly skilled attorneys to investigate and prepare your case, especially in Alabama.
With the right legal team on your side, it may be possible to hold the responsible party accountable for your misdiagnosis and pursue fair compensation through a medical malpractice claim.
What is Misdiagnosis?
Before you consider the question, “Can you sue for misdiagnosis?” you need to know what misdiagnosis is. Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor diagnoses a patient with a medical condition he or she does not have instead of the actual underlying medical condition. An error in diagnosis could lead to a dangerous error in treatment, delay in necessary treatment, or failure to treat the condition at all.
Some situations that may give rise to a medical malpractice claim for misdiagnosis include:
- A health care facility loses your medical records and diagnoses you with the wrong condition
- A nurse administers the wrong treatment
- Medical staff is not properly trained to accurately diagnose you
- A doctor misdiagnoses you because he or she failed to screen for certain medical conditions or listen to you about your symptoms
- A doctor misinterprets lab results or fails to order necessary lab tests
To have a viable medical malpractice claim, you must show that the health care provider violated the standard of care.
Common Types of Misdiagnoses
Some commonly misdiagnosed conditions are:
- Cancer – If misdiagnosed, cancer treatments can lead to invasive and costly therapies such as chemotherapy or radiation. If not diagnosed and treated early enough, cancer could spread and be fatal.
- Ectopic pregnancy– Ectopic pregnancy is the most commonly misdiagnosed pregnancy complication. The lives of both mother and child are at risk if this condition is misdiagnosed.
- Heart attack – Women and younger men often have different heart attack symptoms than older men, so their symptoms can often be misdiagnosed for other conditions like a panic attack or indigestion.
- Stroke – A common stroke can be misdiagnosed as a headache, brain tumor, or a metabolic disorder, such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
- Asthma – Asthma is commonly misdiagnosed as bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Lymph node inflammation – This condition is often misdiagnosed as cancer, lupus, appendicitis, or a sexually transmitted disease.
- Staph infection – Symptoms of a staph infection vary significantly and depend on the area of the body infected. Skin, breasts, the digestive system, bones, lungs, heart, and bloodstream can all be infected with staph bacteria, but may not be diagnosed correctly or quickly. Often, this serious condition is misdiagnosed as the common flu.
- Endometriosis – This condition shares many symptoms with other gynecological disorders such as benign fibroid tumors, ovarian cysts, and even gastrointestinal symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome and colitis. It is often misdiagnosed as one of these other medical conditions.
- Lupus – This condition is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia. Without proper treatment, lupus can cause life-threatening organ damage.
How to Prove Misdiagnosis
Not all diagnostic errors are grounds for a medical malpractice case. To hold a doctor or medical facility accountable, you will have to prove the following:
- Medical negligence – You will have to show that there is a wrong diagnosis and that the correct diagnosis would have been made had the health care provider acted within the proper standard of care. This means that they missed signs, misread test results, or otherwise failed to do what a competent doctor would have done in the same situation.
- Damages – You must have suffered some negligent results, such as being subjected to invasive treatment, having a delay in your diagnosis that has incurred additional medical expenses and therapies, or decreasing your life expectancy.
- Causation – The damages you suffered must be directly related to the misdiagnosis.
Proving that a doctor was negligent will often depend on expert testimony from other medical professionals in the same field of practice. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will be able to identify if medical malpractice likely occurred and will know which experts to consult about the treatment you’ve received.
Contact Serious Injury Law Group to Start a Medical Malpractice Case
If you suffered harm due to a misdiagnosed illness or condition, or if you lost a loved one due to a medical provider’s negligence, call the Serious Injury Law Group right away for help. Our Alabama medical malpractice lawyers are committed to helping those who’ve been hurt in our community get answers and fair compensation. Call us or reach out to us online for a free consultation today.
Chuck James is a Mobile native who graduated from University of Alabama. Chuck has been practicing law since early 2000. Contact Chuck James today for help with your personal injury case. Free consultations. Locations in Birmingham and Montgomery.