When you seek the advice of a health care professional and undergo medical testing, you likely assume that the diagnosis you ultimately receive will be correct. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, but when do you have a case for medical malpractice from a misdiagnosis, and when is it considered part of the practice of medicine?
In a general sense, while there are a lot of variables, if a doctor doesn’t make both a timely and accurate diagnosis of a harmful medical condition, you might be able to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice. It’s certainly possible in medical situations that a doctor could have made a diagnosis to the best of their ability, and even if it were wrong, it would be legal medical negligence.
The following are some things to know.
Common Misdiagnosis Situations
There are certain scenarios that can lead to a delayed diagnosis or the wrong diagnosis. Examples include:
Failure to screen for a disease or medical condition
Not following up on the possible causes of symptoms
Misdiagnosis is one of the top reasons for patient deaths, and there are often thousands of patients in the U.S. alone each year that are misdiagnosed, or deal with delayed diagnosis or missed diagnosis.
Many patients who aren’t properly diagnosed also aren’t ever referred to anyone for a second opinion.
What Do You Have to Show?
With medicine, there is always a degree of uncertainty, which is why it’s called the “practice” of medicine. Legally doctors aren’t held responsible for all errors in diagnostics. For a patient who brings forth a malpractice suit, they would need to show three things.
First, you need to prove there was a doctor-patient relationship.
The second thing you need to show is that another doctor in a similar situation and a similar medical role or practice wouldn’t have made the same mistake your doctor made. That shows the doctor was potentially negligent if another doctor wouldn’t have missed the diagnosis in the same way.
Other conditions misdiagnosed are stroke and chronic kidney disease.
When a person is misdiagnosed, or their diagnosis is delayed, it can increase the potential for complications, or expose them to risky treatments that aren’t necessary. It can also increase the risk of death or contribute to someone undergoing an unneeded surgery.
Was the Patient Harmed by the Misdiagnosis?
One of the main considerations to keep in mind with a medical malpractice lawsuit, whether it’s from a misdiagnosis or something similar, is that you’ll need to show some harm. If you can’t show this, it can weaken the potential for a successful lawsuit.
You need to be able to show that if a diagnosis had been made in a timely way, then the condition wouldn’t have progressed in the way that it did.
There are some rare cases in which a doctor may wrongly diagnose a person with something worse than what they have or something when they have nothing at all and you may be able to get damages for that as well if you can show it led to stress, anxiety, medical issues or unnecessary treatment.
Who Can Be Sued?
Typically if you were going to sue for a misdiagnosis, you would sue your primary doctor. In some cases, although rare, other professionals in the health care industry might be liable if their negligence played a role in the patient’s harm.
This could include any specialists, lab techs, and nurses who saw the patient.
A hospital or health care facility can’t be sued because doctors are independent contractors. Doctors aren’t employees of the hospital, so the facility can’t be held responsible if they are negligent.
If you or a loved one suffered as the result of a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis, it might be worth having a conversation with a legal professional. It can be tough to prove in some instances, but if you can prove negligence led to harm you may be able to recover damages.
Medical malpractice is a serious topic, but it’s also something that gets used inappropriately by many people who are simply looking for a handout. Studies, including one from Purdue University published in 2017, have found that over a quarter-million people die every year from medical mistakes.
That’s a good reason for doctors and victims alike to take this topic seriously, as there is the potential for some significant long term damage for either party involved. Victims of these situations can have life-threatening consequences while doctors can lose their careers over just one incident.
When trying to determine whether or not a case of true medical malpractice has occurred this is what is considered.
Promptness of Medical Malpractice Reporting
In order for medical malpractice to be determined and taken care of, it must be reported shortly after the incident or illness happens. This is to protect the doctor and medical staff involved from getting put at fault when it wasn’t caused by them.
It’s important to note that just because a patient’s condition gets worse, it doesn’t mean it’s a criterion for medical malpractice. Everyone is different, and if it happens that a certain treatment didn’t go as hoped, the doctor is not normally found at fault. The responsibility of the doctor is to act professionally and treat you to the best of his or her ability. In addition, there are some conditions that will only get worse over time and do not have any kind of immediate cure or treatment available.
A Doctor’s Recklessness
Much like what was mentioned above, with conditions that worsen over time, the same parameters exist for patients who are not treatable. If a person is injured in an accident and contracts an illness, the blame can’t be placed on the physician simply based on the outcome of the patient. As long as the doctor took the best course of action according to his or her knowledge on how to move forward with treatment, this is not considered to be recklessness or medical malpractice. If you believe that a medical professional intentionally gave you the wrong treatment to harm you, it’s important to take notes and save any documents related to the visit to the doctor as that is medical malpractice.
Treatability of a Victim’s Illness
Of course, in some cases, patients have a condition or illness that just isn’t treatable. Or, they can be treated with an expectation that things will not turn out how they want them to. Sometimes, people like to blame doctors who aren’t able to make them feel better, but recovery from a serious injury or illness completely depends on who’s involved and their body responds to the treatment. Medicine is not guaranteed to work for everyone, which is why it is certainly not considered malpractice to fail a plan for treatment. Malpractice laws are not in place to lend a hand to the unfortunate, but to make sure that people are getting fair treatment and the best approach for tackling a health issue.
Testimony From an Expert
A critical part of determining malpractice is to get advice from someone who is very familiar and comfortable with the industry. Someone like a medical malpractice lawyer can be a big help in these situations as well as to help you come out on top in the courtroom. In almost all cases, testimony from an expert is required by state law during a trial. Medical malpractice is not something that is taken lightly, so you can rest assured that you’re in good hands after talking to an attorney or expert in this department.
Medical Officials Panel
When a patient makes a medical malpractice claim, it is taken seriously right from the very start. After the initial paperwork is done, a panel in the medical field has a meeting to determine if the person has a potential case. It’s important to know that this panel cannot replace a real trial in a courtroom, nor award damages, but this is one step that someone must do in order to officially file a malpractice situation. After all the evidence that is presented to the group is reviewed, it is then decided if this is a case of medical malpractice or not. Obviously, the ones that are real cases move forward to the legal system.
When you visit your doctor, you expect the best possible care, right?
While doctors get held to a high standard, mistakes can and do occur often. Doctors are not infallible, so they can’t always be perfect. Despite that, a medical mistake can be fatal.
What are the different types of medical malpractice? What are your legal options after such an incident? Keep reading to get all the details.
What Is Medical Negligence and Malpractice?
Medical malpractice happens when a patient gets injured by a doctor’s negligence. Negligence means the doctor failed to act with or provide reasonable care.
Here are the basic elements of medical malpractice:
A relationship existed between the patient and the doctor
The doctor failed to act with reasonable care
This negligence caused an injury to the patient
The injury led to damages
It’s challenging to distinguish between medical negligence and a reasonable error. How do courtrooms make a determination? Often, medical experts testify on behalf of the victim.
Malpractice examples usually mean the doctor’s care fell below the standard of care. It means another doctor would have taken a different course of action.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Can you imagine attempting to diagnose a wide range of health conditions daily? This is the reality for thousands of doctors.
Mistakes happen on a regular basis. Here are some of the most common examples of medical malpractice:
Failure to diagnose
Unnecessary or wrong-site surgery
Failure to order the proper tests
Failure to consider a person’s medical history
Failure to warn patients about the risks of treatment
Medical errors are currently thethird-leading cause of death in America. Victims who survive continue to suffer from physical pain and financial loss. What are a victim’s options?
Criminal and Civil Remedies
Victims injured by malpractice may have both criminal and civil legal options. You can pursue criminal charges to punish the perpetrator, or seek a civil lawsuit.
Medical malpractice is sometimes considered a crime. Criminal sanctions are usually reserved for incidents that involve one of the following elements:
A clear intention to hurt the victim
“Never” events like wrong-site amputation
Intentionally performing unnecessary procedures for financial gain (health care fraud)
Death or disability caused by gross negligence
Medical malpractice suits seek financial compensation from the responsible healthcare provider. Compensation in these malpractice suits pays for medical bills and pain and suffering.
Are you considering filing a medical negligence claim? Reaching out to aVanderbilt medical malpractice lawyer is your best option. An attorney will help you access the medical witnesses, evidence, and legal tools you need.
Recovering From Medical Malpractice
These types of medical malpractice all have serious consequences on a patient’s life. Physical harm may be irreparable, but there are legal remedies available to you.
Have you or a loved one ever suffered from medical malpractice? Were you able to seek out criminal or civil justice? Share your stories with us by leaving a comment in the box below.
If you or someone you know was a victim of medical malpractice, you know how devastating and overwhelming these circumstances can be. You might lose time, money, and functions you have otherwise grown accustomed to having.
Many people think they can file a lawsuit against a physician for anything they feel they did wrong. But the truth is that there are specific requirements for a case to be considered malpractice and qualify for a hearing.
Breach of standard of care
Failure to deliver standard of care is one of the most important elements in determining whether or not an incident is malpractice. It’s an often misunderstood legal term that basically means the patient was treated with acceptable medical care by competent health care professionals. And if it can be proven that this was not the case, then it might be possible to bring a lawsuit for against the individual or establishment responsible.
But breach of standard of care is not enough to present a case. The patient must also prove that the physician or institution was negligent in doing so. They must prove that their pain, injury, or death (in the case of a family suing on behalf of a loved one) was the direct result of negligence.
For example, let’s say there is a treatment available that has been very successful with a certain type of cancer. If a physician knows about it and does not use it, he or she could be liable if the patient suffers in any way as a result.
While malpractice laws vary slightly from country to country, negligence is a fairly standard criteria for warranting a lawsuit. This means California lawyers and Kamloops lawyers, for instance, would be looking for the exact same evidence to build a case against a medical professional when there is suspected malpractice.
If both breach of care and negligence is found in a medical situation, it must then be proven that they resulted in significant damages. In some cases, even small amounts of damages can be approved for litigation. But the legal fees to pursue it may not be worth the effort.
Damages can be broken down into economic and noneconomic categories. And either one is allowable for recovery, provided they meet all the criteria. Economic losses might include lost wages, medical expenses, funeral expenses, etc. And noneconomic damages can be things like mental anguish, disfigurement, death, or anything else that diminishes the patient’s quality of life.
Examples of medical malpractice
One example of medical malpractice that could likely meet all the above criteria is a misdiagnosis. For example, say a patient goes to the emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack, but the attending physician fails to run the appropriate tests. If this patient ends up actually suffering a heart attack, the doctor could be held responsible. In this case, you can clearly identify neglect and breach of standard of care.
Another example could be medication errors. Let’s say someone who just finished a medical assistant diploma program gave a patient in his care the wrong dosage of medicine. If the patient becomes ill because of this mistake, the caregiver will probably be liable. But in this situation, the case becomes a bit trickier.
For one thing, there are very few medical professionals actually trained and allowed to administer medication. Many facilities do hire medication aides with only certificates for this task. But if the person who made this error was not trained, his supervisor and possibly attending physician will also be held responsible.
When we visit healthcare professionals, we reassure ourselves they know what’s best. We, quite literally, put our lives in their hands. And, in most cases, they keep us safe. But, it’s impossible to ignore that medical errors are now thought to be the third leading cause of death in the U.S. In fact, it’s believed that such errors lead to an average of 251,000 lives every year. That’s more than issues like strokes and Alzheimer’s. No wonder many of us experience doubts when seeking medical care.
As a result, more Americans are finding themselves with no choice but to turn to medical malpractice attorneys to get them back on their feet. Individuals who enter hospitals for small procedures find themselves worse off on release. This can lead to lost work, finances, and, in extreme cases, life.
As such, it’s easy to see why many of us wish to seek a second opinion when we receive a diagnosis. In truth, this is rarely necessary, and we often attempt to avoid reality this way. A severe diagnosis is never easy to hear. But, there are cases in which a second opinion could be precisely what you need. Here are a few signs that’s true for you.
You don’t feel your doctor listened to you
It’s fair to say that our healthcare professionals are busier now than ever. As such, appointment times are tight. Doctor’s often spend more time taking notes than actually interacting with patients. That’s nobody’s fault, but it can lead to problems such as misdiagnosis, or unnoted symptoms. And, that can be serious if left unchecked.
If you can’t shake the feeling that your doctor wasn’t listening to what you told them, it may be best to seek another opinion. The chances are that this second doctor will say the same as the first, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, this second opinion can put your mind at ease. After all, even one missed symptom could lead to a false diagnosis. When seeking your second doctor, opt for surgeries which seem quieter. Here, a doctor will be in a position to give you a touch more attention during your appointment.
In some cases, a doctor will make an on-the-spot diagnosis, and suggest treatment. In many ways, this skill is essential in the medical profession. And, some issues don’t need tests to be clear. In some cases, though, doctors get things wrong. They’re only human, and they don’t know your body the way you do. If you feel confident something more sinister is going on, you might want to push for tests to be on the safe side. But, if a doctor is sure of their diagnosis, they could resist putting you forward. After all, tests cost money. If a doctor deems them unnecessary, it’s unlikely you’ll gain the closure you need.
That is, of course, unless you go and see someone else. Again, you may gain the same diagnosis. That in itself could put your mind at ease. Or, it may be the case that another doctor is more open to pursuing testing. In some cases, this is the only way to spot symptomless problems and could be the difference between life and death. So, if you can’t get rid of the niggling feeling things aren’t right, make sure you book an appointment elsewhere.
In some cases, issues like these come down to nothing more than crossed wires. Doctors have a habit of speaking in technical terms that aren’t easy to understand. Many of us get into the habit of nodding along, then Googling what we can remember once we get home. But, that can lead to real issues if you go down a path your doctor didn’t mean you to. On top of which, you might misunderstand what your doctor wants from you going forward. Again, a break down here can lead to real issues.
But, it’s fair to say that some doctors are much better at getting their point across than others. If you don’t understand what one doctor has told you, don’t be afraid to head to another who may be able to explain it better. Many of us are too embarrassed to take this step, but don’t be. This is your body, and it’s crucial you know what’s happening to ensure recovery. And, if you don’t understand something the second time around, it’s likely you’ll feel more justified in asking for an explanation. By this point, after all, you’ll have a better idea of what questions to ask.
You aren’t happy with your treatment plan
In some cases, you may just not be happy with the treatment plan offered to you. Every doctor has a different way of operating. Some are hesitant to reach for heavy drugs, while others don’t think twice. If you don’t want to head straight for a chemical solution with side effects, a second opinion could help. You’ll be able to explain to them what you didn’t like about your previous doctor and work together to find something better. It may even be the case that you want to try some alternative medical solutions instead. Some doctors will shut down at the mention. Others are willing to assist you on a more natural journey in the right way.
Whatever you don’t like about your current plan, don’t be afraid to see what someone else has to say. You can be sure that no two doctors will offer the same treatment plan, so it’s worth exploring here. It may be that other doctors can provide more gentle drugs which will work just as well. Either way, you won’t know until you try.
A final word
In truth, if you feel like you need a second opinion, it’s worth pursuing one. Even the same diagnosis from another professional can be enough to put your mind at ease. So, don’t hesitate to do what you think best when it comes to your health.
There are more than 700,000 compensation claims filed each year in America. Many people take this course of action to get the money they think they deserve. It can help them to pay for food and keep a roof over their head when they are recovering from the injury they sustained. But which are the most common types of personal injury claims?
There are many road accidents, and many people get injured in them who have done nothing wrong. Anyone who gets injured on their road through no fault of their own is within their rights to pursue a compensation claim. There are about six million car accidents on US roads every year, and that leads to a lot of compensation claims. As soon as the driver or passenger has recovered from the injuries, they can use those medical reports as proof. That documentation can be very useful when it comes to securing compensation for the accident. It’s a long process, but the success rates are pretty high.
When someone gets injured at work, they usually look for someone to blame. This is understandable because employers have a duty to look after their employees at work. If their workplaces are not safe, then accidents will happen, and compensation will have to be paid out. Contacting compensation lawyers and pursuing a claim is what the injured person will quickly do. Most workers don’t like their bosses, so they’re not going to shy away from taking their money. The only way to make sure that this doesn’t happen is for employers to make sure that workplaces are safe. Strong health and safety measures are vital to keeping everyone protected from potential harm and hazards.
If a patient can prove that they were injured by the actions of a doctor or medical professionals, they can claim medical malpractice. When this happens, and the evidence all checks out, the money that the victim can claim can be huge. The process isn’t quite as straightforward as that though. An independent medical professional has to look at the case and verify that the original doctor acted incorrectly. If all that goes to plan, the claim should be successful though. Any expert witnesses that were present can help your case if they’re willing to testify for you as well.
Accidents Caused by Negligence
There are millions of accidents every year in which people fall over or slip on a floor. These kinds of accidents often get attributed to someone’s negligence. If someone has cleaned a floor in a public place and failed to put up a sign making that fact clear, they could be negligent. This kind of thing happens each and every day. So, it’s not a surprise that this is one of the most common forms of personal injury claim in the US at the moment. Sometimes, the person who got injured is persuaded to sign a waiver or settle the issue out of court before they can take it further.