Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis?

Can you sue a doctor for wrong diagnosis
Can you sue a doctor for wrong diagnosis?

It all started as I was searching the internet for one of my friends in the US who has supposedly faced contradictory diagnoses from some of the leading doctors adding to his complications owing to a cocktail of contradictory treatments. 

So, I started to look for answers to a few questions I had in my mind. Some questions were related to the symptomatic diagnosis, others about the treatment and finally as soon as I punched: "can you sue", Google's auto suggestive feature suggested - Can You Sue a Doctor For the Wrong Diagnosis! Voila, that was precisely what I wanted to see!

I started researching everything about medical negligence, malpractices, and legal remedies available to the citizens. Negligence can take place as the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, health management, or aftercare.

I am going to give an overview of different types of medical errors made by health care practitioners. It will help you to determine that under what circumstances you can consider yourself a victim of medical malpractice. This should help you in deciding the course of action for being on the wrong side! Let's get started!

What is Medical Negligence?

Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis
Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis

When treatment falls below expected/set standards due to any reason, it can be deemed as medical negligence. If a patient is injured due to medical negligence, the patient may file a proceeding for malpractice. If the patient dies, the family may file an illegal death proceeding.

The most common type of malpractice pertains to surgery, but it can cover a gamut of other associated medical support like the nurse, doctor, medical technician, or medical facility. The various types of medical malpractice are almost endless. 

Here are some examples.

  • Damage to adjacent organs during surgery.
  • The false diagnosis that there is no cure for the condition or that leads to incorrect treatment for the condition.
  • A doctor who tells the patient that he is okay, delays treatment, and ultimately leads to injury. This is especially disastrous for advanced illnesses such as cancer.
  • The dentist caused the patient to lose teeth due to neglect of treatment.
  • Prescribing the wrong or harmful dosage. This can be the fault of the doctor prescribing the drug, the nurse administering the drug, or the pharmacist.
  • Unnecessary surgery prevents a patient from having a child.
  • Failure of a cosmetological procedure can result in injury or severely unpleasant consequences.
  • A medical device that was accidentally misplaced in the patient's body during surgery.
  • Medical record mistakes leading to inaccurate medical procedures and medications.
  • Inappropriate or ineffective anesthesia is given before surgery.
  • Mistakes during childbirth that lead to permanent damage such as fetal death or brain damage. Cerebral palsy is often the result of this type of medical malpractice.

Let's dig deeper into the different types of malpractices committed by healthcare professionals

In addition to cancer and heart disease, the Journal of the American Medical Association states that medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 98,000 people die each year after being injured by various forms of malpractice.

You're wary, right? Want to explore further whether can you sue a doctor for wrong diagnosis?

Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis
Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis

Before arriving at a decision of suing the doctor, one should know if the patient is actually a victim of malpractice? Malpractice is being treated by a medical professional while the patient is being treated. It occurs when he/she deviates from the established "standard treatment" and causes injury or injuries. This negligence can result from errors in diagnosis, treatment, health care, or aftercare.

Below is an overview of the different types of malpractices made by healthcare professionals. This will help you determine under what circumstances you are considered a victim of medical malpractice.

Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis

Delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment are one of the main causes of malpractice complaints. When a health care professional fails to diagnose a particular health condition or illness, the patient suffers considerable suffering and sometimes even death. 

Currently, in order to prove a malpractice claim based on delayed diagnosis or treatment error, you need to prove the incompetence of the doctor handling your case. If a competent and skilled doctor in the same discipline does not make a diagnostic error under similar circumstances, your doctor will be liable for malpractice.

Childbirth injury

Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis
Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis

Most fatal injuries are due to careless diagnosis. This includes brain damage such as paroxysmal disorders and cerebral palsy. Fractures and paralysis that damage the nerves that control the hands and arms are also common injuries during childbirth. However, these injuries are due not only to the carelessness of the doctor during childbirth but also to the carelessness of prenatal care.

Be aware of common examples of doctors' common neglect of prenatal care. If the mother's specific medical condition cannot be diagnosed, such as pre-lamping childhood, hypoglycemia, Rh incompatibility, or other illness.

The baby's size is large or the umbilical cord is entangled, making it impossible to identify complications during childbirth.

Unable to identify signs of fetal asphyxia.

Failure to treat a disease that may prove contagious to the fetus.

Anesthesia error

Anesthesia mistakes are extremely dangerous, and even small mistakes made by anesthesiologists can lead to brain damage, permanent damage, and even death. Keep in mind that anesthesiologists, even before anesthesia, are prone to malpractice, such as neglecting to properly investigate the medical history of the patient involved to predict possible complications.

Surgical error

Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis
Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis

Many malpractice claims also result from errors in the operating room. Surgeons can make mistakes when performing the surgery itself, such as operating on the wrong part of the body or leaving surgical instruments inside the patient's body.

Medication error

A medication error can happen in a variety of ways. From the initial prescription to the prescription of the drug. The most common medication errors include prescribing the wrong dosage of the drug to the patient. To put things in perspective, the global medication error market size stood at USD 326 million in 2018. This is expected to swell to USD 790 million by 2026.

These are some common malpractices made by doctors, and in such situations, you can always claim compensation from your healthcare provider. However, for the best possible settlement, it is always advisable to contact a competent malpractice lawyer. 

A lawyer specializing in this area will effectively deal with the insurance company and make a claim. Increase the settlement value. Therefore, contact an experienced law firm to effectively represent your case.

The Difficulty of "Causation"

Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis
Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis

Is it easy to prove that certain malpractice by the medical fraternity led to injury or death? Well, this is a complex matter. Let's find out about the same in more detail.

In order for a patient to have a medical malpractice claim for medical negligence, he or she will need to prove (1) that the medical professionals had a duty to provide a standard of care and failed to do so, (2) that the patient suffered an injury or injuries, and (3) that the injury was caused by the alleged medical negligence.

But, what does "standard treatment" mean? Well, it varies from state to state. Some laws limit the standards to doctors in the same region of the country, while others extend the standards to doctors at the national level. 

For example, a cardiac surgeon is kept at the same level as other surgeons in the same field. If he or she behaves differently than most cardiac surgeons would have acted in a similar situation, the surgeon may turn out to be medically negligent.

"Causation" in medical malpractice is a complex issue because the body is made up of interrelated systems. Medical personnel may argue that the treatment did not cause the injury, but the condition that the patient already had.

Psychologists and psychiatrists can also be sued for medical malpractice. But in practice, it is very difficult to prove the "Causation" because there are no physical injuries. Moreover, a lawyer assigned by a physician's negligence insurance company may try to claim that the injury was not caused by medical malpractice.

For this reason, it is advisable for an injured person to hire a competent law firm to help negotiate a settlement to recover the costs incurred. Lawyers in this situation work on the basis of "contingency". That is, you don't have to pay the attorney from your pocket. 

Their fees are subject to receiving a settlement from a malpractice insurance company. If the lawyer successfully settles with the client, he will receive a percentage of that amount as a commission. If the lawyer is unsuccessful, he or she will not be able to make money for her job. As a result, lawyers work hard to reach a settlement for their clients.

In some states, the settlement may include funding for pain and distress. This is not a reimbursement of costs, but a payment for the mental stress experienced by the injury. Some states also allow "punitive damages" when gross negligence or misconduct is involved. The amount of such damages is often limited. For example, in California, he is not allowed more than $ 250,000 in compensation for non-economic damages.

Local governments may also file criminal proceedings against doctors or medical facilities if gross negligence or misconduct is involved. This proceeding is separate from the medical malpractice proceeding. In criminal proceedings, the plaintiff is a city or state. 

Medical malpractice proceedings are called "civil" proceedings, in which case the plaintiff is the injured patient. However, one or more defendants are common in both criminal and civil cases. The accused is the defendant of the claim, the party alleged to be medically negligent.

Please note that the Department of Health will only revoke a doctor's license in the event of gross negligence.

Will all medical malpractice cases be brought to justice?

Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis
Can You Sue a Doctor For Wrong Diagnosis

Most of these cases will be settled out of court, but if the parties cannot agree on a settlement amount, they will move to court. Out-of-court settlements are usually brokered by lawyers, so you may want to find the best attorney firm in case you decide to go ahead and claim damages arising from medical negligence. 

The judge or jury decides whether or not the patient is entitled to money and how much. However, years of negotiations may occur before the proceedings proceed to trial. In the meantime, both lawyers prepare legal documents to answer the other's questions. These are called "pretrial findings" treatises.

Statements are often taken from the parties as well. This is an interview where the lawyer of the other party can ask questions. It is not uncommon for a settlement to be reached in court during the jury selection process. This is a tactic that pushes both sides against the wall and forces concessions. 

The plaintiff asks the defendant to make a concession by offering more money in the settlement, and the defendant asks the plaintiff to make a concession by accepting the current settlement. Court costs are much higher than out-of-court settlements, so no one really wants to waste time and money pursuing the legal battles. 

So, finding the right advocate to represent your case convincingly, both outside of court or in a court (if required) is the prerequisite if you wish to sue the doctor for wrong diagnosis or malpractices. 

I hope this post would have thrown some light on the probable malpractices, level of difficulty on proving "causation", and the course of action that could be taken by the aggrieved. 

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Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Lifestylecoco or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction. 

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