We trust our doctors and other medical professionals to diagnose and treat our medical conditions. Patients in Maryland believe that their physicians will accurately assess their health and prescribe the necessary treatment if something is wrong. However, mistakes occur, and serious medical conditions go misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.
If you had a condition that was misdiagnosed or if your doctor failed to diagnose your condition entirely, you might be entitled to compensation. Misdiagnosis can mean that your condition goes untreated for a long time, and you may get worse while you wait for more information. Additionally, if you are diagnosed with the wrong condition, you could undergo unnecessary treatment. This could lead to significant medical expenses and serious physical harm and mental distress, potentially including irreversible harm.
If your condition was misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras today to discuss your legal options. Our Maryland misdiagnosis injury lawyers are committed to fighting for the rights of patients who were unjustifiably harmed by their doctor, another medical professional, or healthcare facility. Call (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free and confidential appointment.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim for Misdiagnosis
If your doctor fails to make an accurate diagnosis of your medical condition, you might have a right to file a medical malpractice claim to pursue a legal remedy for any harm you suffered. However, it is important to remember that a bad outcome, or even a justifiable error, does not always constitute negligence on the part of your doctor or another medical professional.
The critical question our Baltimore medical malpractice attorney will have to answer is whether or not your physician adhered to the applicable medical standard of care. This means, would a similarly trained doctor, under the same circumstances, have made the same diagnosis. it is important to remember that this does not necessarily mean that the correct diagnosis was made.
In most medical malpractice cases arising from a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, you would file a claim against your treating physician. However, in some situations, other parties could also be held liable, including lab technicians, radiologists, nurses, or specialists. In nearly every case, it is difficult, if not impossible, to hold a hospital or healthcare facility liable for a misdiagnosis.
Proving a Misdiagnosis Claim in Maryland
When you sue for misdiagnosis, you must first prove that the doctor or another medical professional that misdiagnosed you committed negligence in failing to get the diagnosis right. Obviously, if they did not get the diagnosis right, then they were wrong – but sometimes the limits of medical science make certain diagnostic mistakes reasonable. Some conditions are very difficult to identify, and even expert physicians cannot easily diagnose the condition or tell that condition apart from other similar conditions. In some cases, these diagnostic issues are reasonable complications.
However, if your doctor should have gotten the diagnosis correct, then you can usually sue them for medical malpractice. In cases where your doctor did not look closely enough at your case, did not order testing or scans, or did not examine you at all, you may be entitled to sue them for failing to properly diagnose your injury. Especially if you can find other medical professionals who can testify that they would have acted differently and that they would have properly diagnosed your condition, you may have a strong case against your doctor.
Why Misdiagnoses and Delayed Diagnoses Happen in Maryland
Medicine is not an exact science. There are times when a patient’s symptoms are not easily diagnosed as one condition or another. However, there are some common mistakes and errors that occur. When a doctor fails to diagnose a condition, the consequences could be devasting or potentially fatal. This is because certain illnesses and conditions that are allowed to progress without treatment become significantly more difficult or impossible to treat until they are correctly diagnosed.
Below, our Maryland medical malpractice attorney looks at some of the more common reasons negligence misdiagnoses happen.
A growing trend in medicine is the fragmentation of healthcare. Patients no longer rely on one doctor for their medical needs. To improve healthcare, people will see various specialists to address their medical issues. While this practice puts patients in the hands of specialized practitioners, it also means that their care is spread out among multiple doctors and facilities. Each treating physician will rely on different diagnostic tests and will act according to their respective perspectives. This type of treatment means that there is no single medical professional that sees the patient’s big picture. When communication errors or omissions occur, vital symptoms or test results could be missed, resulting in misdiagnosed or undiagnosed conditions.
Inexperienced Medical Professionals
Unfortunately, there are cases where a treating physician lacks the experience necessary to recognize specific symptoms, request certain diagnostic tests, or understands how to read the results of particular tests. When these errors occur, misdiagnoses happen. Inexperienced medical professionals must recognize when they need to consult more seasoned doctors.
However, inexperience is not the only problem medical professionals face. There are situations where a doctor with significant experience is so confident in their abilities that a diagnosis is made without sufficient medical evidence or tests.
Insufficient Time with Patients
The medical profession is demanding. Because of the high demand for care, doctors, on average, only spend approximately ten to fifteen minutes with their patients. Unfortunately, this is rarely enough time to discuss all the concerns, symptoms, and issues a patient might have. A proper diagnosis is difficult without reviewing a patient’s entire medical history and taking the time to thoroughly review their test results.
When this lack of dedicated time is couple with the fragmentation of treatment, the chances increase for symptoms to be missed or test results to be misinterpreted. Nonetheless, this current trend in treatment does not free a doctor from liability for medical malpractice when unjustifiable errors occur.
Lack of or Misinterpreting of Diagnostic Testing
In some cases, a doctor needs more than one type of diagnostic test to glean an accurate picture of a patient’s medical condition. If a doctor fails to order a sufficient number of tests, it might be impossible to provide an accurate diagnosis. Sometimes, a lack of testing is an insurance constraint and the patient lacks the ability or desire to pay for the tests themselves. In other cases, the insufficient testing is caused by an error on the doctor’s part, their inexperience, or their overconfidence. In other cases, a radiologist or technician makes an error in administering the test or interpreting the results. If a medical condition goes undetected because of insufficient or erroneous testing, contact a Maryland medical malpractice attorney.
As stated above, healthcare has become fragmented in certain areas of medicine. Miscommunication errors could lead to misdiagnoses when a patient is seeing multiple doctors. However, miscommunication is also an issue if a person only sees their primary physician. If a patient’s medical file is incomplete or the doctor is not given the complete history, a misdiagnosis could occur. A doctor could request the correct diagnostic test but mistakenly order a different one or provide unclear directions. When information is omitted or misinterpreted, diagnosis errors happen.
Damages for Misdiagnosis Lawsuits in Maryland
The goal of any personal injury lawsuit is to seek monetary compensation for the injuries and damages that were caused by another person or company. Medical malpractice claims are no different. When you sue for medical malpractice, you can usually claim compensation for any damages that stem from the doctor’s errors. A Maryland medical practice attorney will need to thoroughly evaluate your case to calculate your potential damages. This could include many areas of harm, especially in cases of misdiagnosis, where the harm can be substantial. Along with damages for lost wages, the following are all common areas of compensation for misdiagnosis victims in Maryland.
Damages for Unnecessary Treatments
If your doctor diagnosed you with the wrong condition or illness, you could undergo treatment that you did not need. Especially in cases of misdiagnosis of cancer, the treatments you underwent could be extremely expensive and could cause significant harm if they were unnecessary.
The cost of treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be so expensive that they often bankrupt working families. Other medications that could be absolutely lifesaving for someone with a serious medical condition can also be quite expensive. If you pay for this medical care and medication and you spend hours on the phone fighting with medical insurance companies only to find that these treatments were unnecessary, you deserve serious financial compensation.
Additionally, some treatments for serious medical conditions involve invasive procedures. Exploratory surgery or invasive testing might be necessary to determine how to treat certain conditions, and if the doctor only finds out that you did not need these procedures after they performed them, the harm of the surgery should be compensated. Moreover, some treatments require the removal of body parts and organs. In cases of breast cancer, mastectomies are common – and in cases of testicular cancer, orchiectomies are common. These surgeries are irreversible, and if they were done unnecessarily, you could face permanent harm that you never should have faced.
Your doctor should be held accountable for all of these damages.
Damages for Worsened Conditions
After discovering what your true condition is, you might need additional medical care to treat the true condition. If a proper diagnosis was delayed, your condition might have gotten worse, and the care costs and treatments necessary might be higher than if your condition was caught early. Again, misdiagnosis of cancer is a clear example of this: early cancer treatment is one of the best predictors of success, and if cancer is left to get worse without treatment, it can become very difficult or impossible to treat.
If you suffered additional harm from increased care needs because your doctor did not diagnose your condition early enough, you should be entitled to sue for these damages. Some conditions can become deadly if left untreated, so if a loved one’s true diagnosis was only discovered after their death, you may be entitled to sue for additional damages for their death.
Mental Anguish from Wrongful Diagnosis
If you were wrongly told that you have a condition that you do not actually have, it can seriously alter your life. Being told that you have a serious diagnosis like cancer or a life-altering health condition like ALS or multiple sclerosis can have painful mental effects on a person. If you do have the condition, these mental effects are something you will have to live with and move forward with – but if the doctor was wrong, these mental effects constitute serious, unnecessary harm.
The trauma of being told you have cancer or that you might only have a year to live is truly a trauma in and of itself if the diagnosis was wrong. You should be entitled to claim damages for the mental and emotional distress of this kind of misdiagnosis.
Additionally, if your condition went undiagnosed, you may be filled with stress and worry about what is wrong with you. This unnecessary anguish should also be compensated.
Call Our Maryland Lawyer for Misdiagnosis and Medical Malpractice Victims
If you or a loved one had their health condition wrongly diagnosed, you might be entitled to sue for the unnecessary harm they faced from treatment for the wrong condition as well as the increased harm they faced while their true condition went untreated. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras’s Maryland personal injury lawyers today to set up a free legal consultation and discuss your potential claim in a confidential setting. Call us today at (410) 694-7291 to schedule your free legal consultation.