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Jackson & New Orleans Workers' Compensation / Blog / Injuries / Can You Sue a Doctor for Misdiagnosis? A Misdiagnosis Happens More Often Than You Think.

Can You Sue a Doctor for Misdiagnosis? A Misdiagnosis Happens More Often Than You Think.

Can You Sue a Doctor for Misdiagnosis? A Misdiagnosis Happens More Often Than You Think.

Tragically, medical misdiagnoses are exceedingly common in the United States and Mississippi, and misdiagnoses can lead to serious or fatal injuries and illnesses. If you’re the victim of a medical misdiagnosis, you may wonder if you have the option to file a lawsuit. Those who suffer from an injury or illness caused by medical malpractice have every right to file a lawsuit in Mississippi, but what qualifies as medical malpractice is often difficult to determine.

If you have questions regarding medical misdiagnosis and malpractice, contact the Mississippi medical malpractice attorneys at Lunsford, Baskin, and Priebe, PLLC. We offer free case evaluations so that you can understand your legal options moving forward. In this blog, we discuss common diagnostic errors, when a misdiagnosis is considered medical malpractice, and suing after a misdiagnosis. 

How Often Does Misdiagnosis Occur? 

Johns Hopkins Medicine conducted a detailed study regarding medical malpractice cases from 1986 to 2010. Out of all medical malpractice cases, misdiagnosis was the most common reason for claims, and the injuries and illnesses that were caused or made worse by misdiagnoses accounted for $38.8 billion in damages. The study also estimated that every year between 80,000 to 160,000 people suffer from serious or fatal complications due to a misdiagnosis. 

Additional medical studies indicate that misdiagnoses are one of the leading causes of serious and fatal injuries and illnesses that are preventable. 

Misdiagnoses usually occur due to a delay in the diagnosis or an issue with the testing process.

Common causes include:

  • Misinterpreting the results of a diagnostic test
  • Not consulting with a patient about their symptoms
  • Not investigating what may be causing symptoms 
  • Failing to test for a particular medical condition
  • Failing to refer patients to a specialist who can treat their specific condition

There are many different types of misdiagnoses that can cause or contribute to serious or fatal injuries or illnesses. Some of these types include:

  • Lymph node inflammation: Sometimes misdiagnosed as appendicitis
  • Staph infection: Frequently misdiagnosed as the flu 
  • Asthma: Often mistaken as bronchitis

In addition to these common misdiagnoses, three major misdiagnoses frequently lead to serious injury and death. These are:

  • Cancer: Cancers that are frequently misdiagnosed include lung cancer, melanoma, breast cancer, lymphoma, pancreatic cancer, and colon cancer. 
  • Infections: People frequently suffer from misdiagnosed hospital infections including central line-associated bloodstream infections, gastrointestinal infections, soft tissue infections, and more. 
  • Heart attack and other cardiovascular issues: Heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease are frequently misdiagnosed, leading to serious or fatal consequences.  

When Is a Doctor Misdiagnosis Considered Malpractice?

Although misdiagnoses occur frequently, not all misdiagnosis cases are considered medical malpractice. The diagnostic issue needs to be considered preventable, and the error needs to have harmed the patient. When evaluating whether a misdiagnosis case constitutes medical malpractice, legal professionals usually look at various indicators including:

  • Whether the patient received reasonable care
  • Whether the patient was harmed due to the misdiagnosis
  • If the medical professional provided a proper evaluation to diagnose their patient
  • If the medical professional provided or consulted with the patient about relevant diagnostic tests 
  • If the diagnostic tests were executed properly
  • If medical professionals interpreted the diagnostic test reasonably

A medical professional can make a mistake and misdiagnose a patient as long as they provide an acceptable level of care. They need to have provided as much care as a reasonable medical professional would in the same situation. For example, if a doctor misreads a diagnostic test but they showed proper care and interpreted the results in a way that a reasonable doctor would, courts likely wouldn’t consider the doctor’s actions medical malpractice. On the other hand, if they didn’t pay attention to their patient and misdiagnosed them as a result, they didn’t perform their duty and they could be found liable. 

Can You Sue a Doctor for Misdiagnosis in Mississippi?

You may wonder what to do if your doctor misdiagnoses you. If you suffered from harm as a result of the doctor’s misdiagnosis, you may be able to recover compensation. For example, if your doctor has you undergo damaging treatment to address your misdiagnosed condition, you may have suffered from severe harm. 

A patient could be misdiagnosed with cancer and undergo harmful chemotherapy as a result. Patients may also suffer because of delayed treatment caused by a misdiagnosis. If a doctor diagnoses a patient with a migraine but they’re actually suffering from a stroke, for example, that patient may suffer permanent damage or even death due to the misdiagnosis.  

When suing a doctor for misdiagnosis, you need to be able to prove that the doctor didn’t provide you with reasonable care, and their failure to provide care caused you harm. You also need to prove that you were their patient, they acted negligently, and their negligence directly caused injuries or illnesses or made them worse.  

Contact a Mississippi Medical Malpractice Attorney

When entering into a misdiagnosis lawsuit settlement, you may be able to recover different forms of compensation including medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, physical and emotional pain and suffering, in-home care, loss of consortium, and more. 

Although you’re not required to hire a medical malpractice lawyer to file a lawsuit against a medical professional, legal experts can greatly increase your likelihood of proving your case.

Here at Lunsford, Baskin, and Priebe, PLLC, we’ve assisted many Mississippi residents with medical malpractice cases including lawsuits involving misdiagnosis. We’ll work to help you prove your claim, and we’ll do everything we can to maximize the amount of compensation you’ll receive for your injuries or illness. Call our Jackson office at 601-983-2667, or you can click here to schedule a free case evaluation. 

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