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When Is a Missed Diagnosis Considered Medical Malpractice?

Published on Dec 12, 2019 at 7:43 pm in Medical Malpractice.

Stethoscope

When you aren’t feeling well, you go to the doctor to get answers and recommendations. So what happens if your doctor says you’re fine, but you still feel sick? If you start feeling worse even though your doctor claimed you were healthy, then you could have a medical malpractice suit for a missed diagnosis on your hands. You trust your doctor to accurately diagnose you, so when they don’t, the results could be deadly.

Even though they sound similar, a missed diagnosis is not the same as a misdiagnosis. When a patient has a misdiagnosis, a physician diagnoses them with the wrong illness and treats them toward that diagnosis, which can also be a form of medical malpractice. But a missed diagnosis is a different scenario.

When a doctor claims that a patient is perfectly healthy even though they complain of symptoms that could be signs of a harmful ailment, it can cause a failure to diagnose, also known as a missed diagnosis. If a doctor does not recognize the symptoms you describe, then they might not know that you have a serious or life threatening illness or injury and will not prescribe you necessary medication or provide adequate treatment. According to Kaiser Health News, at least 500,000 missed diagnosis opportunities happen each year.

Rather than consulting with another doctor or telling you to get a second opinion, sometimes that physician claims you’re healthy and dismisses you. This can be a confusing time for you because you still feel all of the symptoms that you originally complained of to your doctor but are being told that you are fine. This can make you feel unheard or like you don’t know your own body.

Proving Medical Malpractice

Just because you have a missed diagnosis, you don’t necessarily have a medical malpractice claim. A big factor in a claim is the status of your health. If the diagnosis that was missed was life threatening, then you probably have a claim. But if the diagnosis missed was a cold, you most likely don’t have a claim.

Doctors are expected to make correct decisions when diagnosing patients, and when they don’t, serious consequences can happen. Sure, a physician isn’t perfect and won’t always be able to properly diagnose a patient on the first try, but they are still expected to perform to the standard of care.

An article published in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine describes the most modern definition of standard of care as “that which a minimally competent physician in the same field would do under similar circumstances.” When it comes to medical malpractice, you have a claim after a missed diagnosis if you can prove that a physician breached the standard of care. Here’s what you specifically need to prove:

  • There was a doctor-patient relationship
  • The doctor was negligent
  • That negligence caused harm to the patient

If you’re planning on filing a claim for medical malpractice because a doctor didn’t properly diagnose you, it’s important to know that that statute of limitations in Kentucky, as outlined by Kentucky Revised Statutes, is one year.

Golden Law Office

If you’ve been contemplating filing a medical malpractice claim in Lexington, but didn’t know who to turn to, then Golden Law Office can help you. Our dedicated lawyers can guide you through your claim and support you through what can be the toughest time in your life. After a doctor makes a mistake, you could be dealing with a lot of unnecessary physical and emotional pain. And if the injury is bad enough, you could be struggling financially from missed work. Contact us today so that we can start working for you, and so that you can get back to your life.

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