Does a misdiagnosis equate to medical malpractice?

On Behalf of | May 27, 2022 | Blog |

New York City patients expect to receive the best care from their doctors. Unfortunately, it’s possible to be misdiagnosed. Knowing when a misdiagnosis constitutes medical malpractice is important.

What is a misdiagnosis?

A misdiagnosis can happen due to a variety of reasons such as misinterpreting the results of a medical test or because your symptoms closely match those of a different condition.

A medical misdiagnosis can be devastating if your actual condition is serious. For example, if a person has a brain tumor but is misdiagnosed with a migraine, waiting for the treatment they actually need might be deadly.

When can a misdiagnosis be considered medical malpractice?

If you believe your misdiagnosis warrants filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it’s important to know whether the misdiagnosis can be considered negligence. Doctors are not punished just because they make errors. The patient is required to prove the validity of a medical malpractice claim based on the following elements:

  • There was a doctor-patient relationship.
  • The doctor behaved negligently and didn’t provide the expected level of skill and competence when treating the patient.
  • The doctor’s negligence directly led to the patient suffering harm.

Proving negligence is sometimes challenging. Differential diagnosis is necessary to explore how the doctor made the diagnosis. This is done by asking patients questions about their symptoms and medical history, ordering tests and referring patients to see specialists. Potential diagnoses are ruled out until one remains.

Only after the patient can prove they have suffered harm is there a case for malpractice. For example, if a doctor missed cancer in a patient when the disease was in the early stages and another doctor discovered the patient was in stage 3, the patient would have a legitimate medical malpractice claim.

If you suffered harm after a misdiagnosis, you might have cause to file a medical malpractice claim.