Most of us have gone to the doctor and been given a diagnosis that, in retrospect, turned out to be incorrect. However, not every misdiagnosis can be considered malpractice. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, approximately 10 to 20 percent of all cases are misdiagnosed and diagnostic errors in intensive care units in the US lead to more than 40,000 deaths a year. There are different types of medical diagnostic errors, including:
- Wrong diganosis. When the medical professional incorrectly diagnoses the patient with the wrong illness.
- Missed diagnosis. When the doctor diagnosises the patient as healthy, when the patient has an illness or disease.
- Delayed diagnosis. When the doctor eventually comes up with the correct diagnosis, but too much time has passed for a treatment to have any significant impact on the condition.
- Failure to recognize the complications. When the doctor fails to identify the complications of the illness or condition, after a correct diagnosis.
- Failure to diagnose a related diesease. When the doctor diagnosis one disease, but fails to diagnose a related disease.
- Failure to diagnose an unrelated disease. When the doctor fails to diagnose an unrelated disease when the patient is examined.
Some conditions can be easily misdiagnosed such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, migraines, celiac disease, hypothyroidism and most autoimmune diseases. There are four main components of a successful medical malpractice case.
- A doctor-patient relationship must exist which dictates that the doctor owes the patient a duty of care.
- The doctor must be negligent when diagnosing the patient. Negligence happens when a reasonable and similarly trained doctor would have provided a different diagnosis and treatment in the same situation.
- The patient must prove that the diagnosis was harmful, indicating a strong link between the negligent diagnosis and the undesirable outcome. Because medical malpractice is a civil case and not a criminal one, the burden of proof is not as great as it would be if the doctor was facing criminal charges.
- The patient must be specific in outlining the damages he or she requests. Recoverable damages may consist of economic damages that are quantifiable and entail medical, therapy or treatment costs. Non-economic damages include emotional pain and physical trauma which are not immediately quantifiable. Punitive damages, although not as common, occur when doctors exhibit reckless behavior and are included to punish the doctor.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a doctor and you believe you have a medical malpractice case, Attorney Fred T. Polacek can help. He has years of experience helping victims of medical malpractice and he will fight to help you get the compensation you deserve. Please contact him in Providence, Rhode Island at (401) 868-4306 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.