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A doctor’s mistake can result in severe injuries, complications, and sometimes wrongful death. Just like any of us, doctors do make mistakes, and not every error is an instance of medical malpractice. But, when a doctor provides treatment below the accepted standard of care and the result is a patient who suffers harm, there is cause for a lawsuit.
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How We Prove Medical Malpractice According to Diagnostic Errors
According to the law, doctors cannot be held legally responsible for all types of diagnostic errors. That’s why patents need to prove three things if they want to win a medical malpractice lawsuit on the basis of the wrong diagnosis. These include:
- The doctor’s negligence caused injury to the patient
- There was indeed a doctor-patient relationship
- The doctor acted negligently and failed to provide treatment in a competent manner
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Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis
These are not evidence of negligence. Skilled doctors do make diagnostic mistakes even when practicing reasonable care. We will help you determine whether or not your doctor acted competently by evaluating what he or she did or didn’t do in arriving at your diagnosis.
We, therefore, look at the differential diagnosis he or she used to determine your course of treatment. This method is used by doctors to identify a condition or disease.
- Based on a preliminary evaluation, the doctor creates a list of diagnosis according to probability
- He or she then tests the strength of the diagnoses and makes more medical observations
- The doctor asks detailed questions about symptoms and medical history
- Tests are then ordered, or the patient is referred to specialists
- Several potential diagnoses are ruled out during the investigation process, leaving one diagnosis
After further investigation, doctors sometimes discover information that results in inclusions to the differential diagnostic list.
If you have a case for medical malpractice based on diagnostic error, you will need to prove that a doctor of a similar specialty and under similar conditions, wouldn’t have misdiagnosed your condition or illness. This means establishing that either:
- The doctor included the right diagnosis on the differential diagnosis list but did not perform relevant tests or seek specialist opinions, or
- The doctor didn’t include the right diagnosis on the differential diagnosis list, and another doctor of similar competence would have
What If the Misdiagnosis Harmed the Patient?
You will also need to prove that the delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis caused your injury or condition to progress beyond where it would have, had the right diagnosis been made and been made timeously. You will also have to show that this progression had an adverse impact on your treatment.
For instance, a delayed cancer diagnosis meant you had to undergo a strict treatment regime like chemotherapy, or perhaps a patient died because the cancer was too far progressed to respond to treatment.
In some cases, a patient will be able to show harm even if his or her condition is still treatable.
Should a doctor diagnose a patient with an illness or condition that the patient doesn’t actually have, that patient may be able to prove harm in the form of medical issues, stress, anxiety, and related expenses for unnecessary treatment.
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There Are Different Types of Medical Diagnostic Errors
There are a number of ways that doctors can make mistakes. These include:
- Missed diagnosis – the physician gives you a clean bill of health when you actually do have a disease or illness
- The wrong diagnosis – this is also known as misdiagnosis and occurs then the doctor chooses the wrong illness. For instance, he or she could diagnose a gastric issue when the patient is actually having a heart attack.
- Failure to diagnose a related disease – in this case, the physician correctly diagnoses a disease, but then fails to diagnose a similar illness. The related disease tends to go hand-in-hand with the main condition or is one that has a higher risk of occurring in patients with a primary illness or disease.
- Failure to recognize complications – here, the doctor does make the right However, he or she fails to identify factors or complications that aggravate the condition.
- Delayed diagnosis – the physician does make the correct diagnosis but only after some time has passed. This is one of the most common kinds of diagnosis errors.
- Failure to diagnose separate diseases – a patient is correctly diagnosed with one disease; however, the doctor fails to diagnose a different secondary disease.
Misdiagnosis and Negligence Can Happen in the Emergency Room
Believe it or not, misdiagnosis is far more likely in the emergency room. That’s because the increased time pressure in the emergency environment means there is less time to investigate differential diagnoses thoroughly. What’s more, the traumatic and grave nature of emergency room injuries and illnesses means that incorrect, or missed diagnosis is far more likely to harm the patient.
Unfortunately, in this type of setting, less common conditions and illnesses often escape the correct diagnosis. What’s more, conditions that are not common in certain populations aren’t likely to be correctly diagnosed.
For instance, a young woman with gastric problems, which is actually a sign of a heart attack, is a lot less likely to be diagnosed as having a heart attack, compared to a middle-aged, overweight male with the exact same symptoms.
Conditions that are frequently misdiagnosed in an emergency room setting include:
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary embolism
Have You or a Loved One Suffered as a Result of Doctor Negligence?
To many of us, it’s obvious that a doctor’s negligence can lead to harm in patients. However, for a case to be considered medical malpractice, a physician has to testify in court that he or she did commit misconduct and that it was a huge factor in causing a medical setback, injury, or even wrongful death.
Our experienced New York City lawyers have access to a variety of elite medical experts who will testify on doctor negligence cases that range from birth injuries to surgical errors and more.
Sadly, doctor negligence can happen at any stage of treatment from the GP’s consulting room to the operating table. Our team will carefully and comprehensively investigate a case of negligence to determine whether or not a physician knowingly or even blatantly failed to give patients the right treatment.
We have over 30 years of experience dealing with malpractice insurance companies, and if we have to, we will take your case to trial. We have a winning record of success when it comes to trials! In fact, we have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of our medical malpractice and personal injury clients in New York.
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If you, or a loved one, have suffered at the hands of a doctor’s negligence in New York, our lawyers are waiting to help you. We serve the Queens, Manhattan, NYC Metro, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Bronx areas.