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The Basics of Filing a Lawsuit for Misdiagnosis


One of the most common types of medical malpractice cases derive from misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of an injury, illness, or another type of medical condition. When a doctor commits a diagnosis error that leads to an inadequate treatment or no treatment whatsoever, a patient’s condition can become worse and even result in death.

In order to be successful in a medical malpractice lawsuit based on the wrong diagnosis, you must prove the following:

  1. There is a relationship between doctor and patient
  2. The doctor was negligent by failing to provide treatment in a reasonably skillful and competent manner
  3. The doctor’s negligence caused actual harm to the patient

Was the Physician Negligent?

When focusing on the second part of the list above, a simple misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis in itself is not considered sufficient evidence of negligence. Even the most skilled physicians can make diagnostic errors when using reasonable care.

The key is figuring out whether the doctor acted in a competent manner. To determine this, it is critical to take a look at the “differential diagnosis” method the physician used in making treatment decisions.

Differential diagnosis is a systematic method applied by doctors to identify a condition or illness in a patient. As soon as the doctor creates a list of diagnoses according to probability, he or she will test the strength of each diagnosis—through medical observations of the patent or by asking detailed questions regarding medical history and symptoms—in order to determine only one in the end.

In a medical malpractice case based on a diagnostic error, the patient needs to prove that a physician in a similar specialty, under similar circumstances, would not have made the same mistake. In other words, you must prove that the doctor did not include the correct diagnosis on the differential diagnosis list—and that a competent doctor would have under similar circumstances—or the doctor included the correct diagnosis, but failed to perform the proper tests or seek opinions from specialists to further investigate the validity of the diagnosis.

Did the Misdiagnosis Cause Harm?

In regards to the third part of the list, the patient needs to prove that the doctor’s negligent misdiagnosis caused the patient’s condition or injury to worsen or progress where it normally would have.

For more information, request a free consultation with our New York City personal injury lawyer at Belushin Law Firm today.

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