To truly appreciate what medical malpractice encompasses, one must first understand its definition. Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider deviates from accepted standards in the medical community, leading to patient harm or injury. For a situation to be legally defined as medical malpractice, four conditions must be met: Duty, Dereliction (negligence or deviation from standard care), Damages, and Direct cause.
Misdiagnosis can potentially be grounds for a medical malpractice claim, but not all cases of misdiagnosis will qualify. There are a few key factors to consider in determining whether your misdiagnosis could be considered medical malpractice under English law:
- Duty of Care: Did the healthcare professional owe you a duty of care? This is typically straightforward in the doctor-patient relationship.
- Breach of Duty: Did the healthcare provider breach that duty of care? In cases of misdiagnosis, you would need to demonstrate that a competent doctor in the same specialty, under similar circumstances, would not have made the same mistake. This usually involves a comparison with the standard diagnostic procedure or the use of certain diagnostic tests that the doctor failed to perform.
- Causation: Was the misdiagnosis the direct cause of harm? This could involve worsening of the disease due to delayed treatment, harmful side effects from incorrect treatment, stress and anxiety from the misdiagnosis, or additional medical costs
- Harm: As a result of the misdiagnosis, did you suffer actual harm or injury? In other words, were there negative consequences like unnecessary treatment, delayed treatment, increased risk of complication, or progression of the disease? This could also include non-physical harm such as mental anguish or increased medical bills.
Misdiagnosis cases often hinge on the standard of care that a reasonably competent medical professional in the same specialty would have provided in the same situation. This often requires the testimony of medical experts who can speak to what a competent doctor would have done under similar circumstances.
In addition, some misdiagnoses may not lead to a successful medical malpractice claim because no harm resulted from it. For instance, if a patient was misdiagnosed with a condition but the correct treatment was given for the actual disease and no harm was suffered, it may be difficult to bring a successful claim.
Misdiagnosis as a Form of Medical Malpractice
Misdiagnosis, a common occurrence within healthcare settings, falls under the umbrella of potential medical malpractice. Misdiagnosis can lead to delayed treatment, disease progression, severe physical harm, and sometimes even death.
Determining if Your Misdiagnosis is Considered Medical Malpractice
To determine if your misdiagnosis is a result of medical malpractice, several criteria need to be met. First, a doctor-patient relationship must be established, signifying that the doctor had a responsibility to provide competent care. Then, it must be shown that the doctor was negligent, failing to deliver treatment in a reasonably skilful and competent manner. This negligence needs to have directly resulted in harm, which may necessitate a medical expert’s testimony to confirm that the misdiagnosis led to a worsened condition or injury. Lastly, it must be proved that the harm caused by negligence led to specific damages like physical pain, mental suffering, additional medical bills, or loss of work and earning capacity.
Case Examples and Steps to Take If You Suspect Medical Malpractice
There have been numerous successful lawsuits where patients were able to prove medical malpractice due to misdiagnosis. For instance, a case where cancer was misdiagnosed as a less severe condition, causing a delay in appropriate treatment and avoidable health decline.
If you suspect that you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, it’s important to consult with a medical expert for a second opinion. If your situation aligns with the criteria above, consider contacting a Port St. Lucie medical malpractice attorney. An experienced attorney can guide you through the complicated legal process and advocate for your right to compensation.