Beebe and O'Neil

Examining medical malpractice liability for misdiagnosis

New London residents may be interested in some information about what actions can give rise to a medical malpractice case. Misdiagnosis is one important type of malpractice that can cause serious damage to a patient.

Generally, the test for medical malpractice for a doctor's misdiagnosis is whether or not a similarly situated, reasonably prudent doctor would have made the same diagnoses. Doctors often use a technique known as "differential diagnosis," in which the potential causes of the problem are listed in order of priority. Further testing is then performed in order to eliminate the diagnoses from most probable to least. Failure to enter a possible diagnosis into the list or order the proper tests to eliminate that possibility could give rise to a claim of medical malpractice.

Another important area for malpractice claims involves damage caused by treatment of a disease that a patient does not have. Both the treatment itself and the lack of treatment for the patient's actual problem can cause damage to the patient. This is usually the result of a misdiagnosis, but it is possible for a doctor to either give the wrong treatment for a correct diagnosis or attempt a new or unique treatment that causes the patient harm. Other times, doctors notice serious or important symptoms but dismiss them as minor or unrelated. This could lead to a claim of negligence against the doctor who failed to diagnose the real problem.

Determining whether a misdiagnosis gives rise to a claim of negligence can be difficult without the assistance of an attorney. The attorney may be able to review medical records and determine whether the medical professional is liable for damages related to a misdiagnosis. The attorney may then be able to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover compensation for any damages caused by the misdiagnosis.

Source: Findlaw, "Failed/Erroneous Diagnosis and Treatment", September 04, 2014

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