Maryland Misdiagnosis Injury Lawyer
When you receive medical treatment from a health care provider, you anticipate a certain level of care. No matter your expectations, medical professionals are held to certain standards. This includes physicians and other medical providers who conduct diagnostic tests or examine their patients to diagnose their medical condition. If your treating doctor fails to accurately assess your symptoms or medical condition, or they misdiagnose you, severe and negative outcomes could affect your health.
A Maryland misdiagnosis injury lawyer can help you seek justice for the mistakes that led to further injury and illness if your condition was not properly diagnosed. If your condition gets worse because of a doctor’s mistakes, you have every right to fight to seek compensation to cover the additional medical care costs and pain and suffering you face.
While it is unreasonable to expect a medical professional to be flawless, the attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras believe doctors and other health care providers should be held accountable when they have failed to adhere to the appropriate medical standards. If you think you have suffered because of a misdiagnosis, contact our Maryland attorneys for medical misdiagnosis at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free consultation.
What Constitutes a Misdiagnosis in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases?
A medical misdiagnosis encompasses a vast litany of errors that can occur in a medical environment. For instance, a doctor may diagnose a patient with bronchitis, when they actually have lung cancer.
Alone, misdiagnosis may not entitle an injured individual to compensation. An attorney will need to provide evidence that the medical staff was negligent and provided a misdiagnosis. Or an attorney will need to prove that the medical staff failed to utilize appropriate testing methods to determine a proper diagnosis. Essentially, if a medical staff member misdiagnoses an illness that might otherwise have been properly diagnosed by a medical staff member with the same specialty, then they are deemed at fault and may owe the personally injured compensation.
Because the courts look at what other doctors and medical experts would have done in the same situation, it can be difficult to determine what constitutes misdiagnosis. Typically, victims of misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis need to hire medical experts of their own to testify as to what steps should have been taken and what mistakes were made in this specific case. If other medical experts can testify that tests were skipped, results were misread, or that the treating physician failed to follow up on obvious red flags, it is more likely that the court will deem the mistakes in your case “medical negligence.”
Common Reasons for a Misdiagnosis in Maryland
As stated, not all medical mistakes give rise to a medical malpractice claim. However, to comply with the appropriate standards of medical care, physicians and other health care providers should be aware of the common errors that can lead to a misdiagnosis and medical malpractice.
Sometimes a treating doctor will not order the proper tests to determine your medical condition. A thorough exam should rule out all causes of your symptoms. For example, a stroke presents symptoms that could be associated with other diseases and illnesses. If your doctor fails to order the necessary tests to exclude the possibility of a stroke, your condition could go untreated and result in more serious and potentially permanent mental and physical disabilities. Failing to order the appropriate tests to diagnose your condition could constitute medical malpractice.
Hospitals and doctors are often sued for malpractice involving misdiagnosis and missed conditions, so it is common for some tests to be run every single time that certain warning signs appear. If a doctor saw warning signs that usually require certain tests to be run but specifically declined to run those tests, it may be more obvious that your case was one of unreasonable misdiagnosis.
Missed Warning Signs
Other cases of misdiagnosis occur when a doctor fails to recognize the early signs or symptoms of a potentially fatal medical condition. When this happens, your condition could become increasingly worse because you are not receiving the proper treatment.
Other conditions or features about the patient can mask certain symptoms or warning signs. Sometimes, this can lead to inequitable health outcomes. Many Black patients, female patients, and overweight patients face discriminatory healthcare practices and have claims of severe pain, discomfort, or shortness of breath ignored because of perceptions about the patient that are not backed by science. For example, many Black women face discrimination because of a perception that they have a higher pain tolerance, which can lead to heart attacks and other serious conditions going undiagnosed and untreated.
Misread Test Results
In other situations, a doctor will order the appropriate tests but misinterpret the results and misdiagnose the patient’s condition. In addition to misinterpreting the results of a test, a diagnostic test could be inaccurately performed. Depending on the circumstances, the doctor or the medical professional who administered the test could be held liable.
In some cases, certain results should be red flags to experienced medical professionals. For example, a patient with prior health conditions will often have data and test results the doctor can use as a baseline to determine what is “normal” for this patient. If the doctor looks at what is objectively normal instead of what is normal for this patient, they could miss severe health issues.
Missing Medical History
Part of a thorough physical examination is taking a complete medical history of a patient. it is not uncommon for symptoms to relate to previous conditions. Additionally, a patient’s family history could mean that they are prone to certain conditions. If misdiagnosis occurs because your doctor failed to review your medical history, they could be held liable for medical malpractice.
Sometimes your family history is the key to a proper diagnosis. This is especially true because doctors tend to ignore rare conditions as an option when diagnosing health conditions. Doctors do not commonly consider rare health conditions until they have ruled out other, more common conditions, but knowing a patient’s detailed family history can help them rule in hereditary conditions more quickly and avoid delays in diagnosing serious conditions like breast cancer.
If an illness is not diagnosed in a timely manner, medical staff may be at fault. Seek representation from a personal injury lawyer if medical staff did not deliver a diagnosis promptly. Timeliness is often crucial to remedying an illness or injury, and a delayed diagnosis can result in further pain and suffering, worsened illness, or possibly death. We will strive to prove that you have been wronged by delays in the diagnosis and treatment of an illness.
In cases of delayed diagnosis, it is common for patients to go without treatment or to receive only basic care (rest, fluids, painkillers, etc.). In many instances, conditions will approach incurable levels of severity while the condition goes undiagnosed. Even if a successful diagnosis is made later, the delay in diagnosis may have irreparably harmed the patient, justifying a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Problems with Diagnostic Equipment
Faulty diagnostic equipment can lead to an incorrect diagnosis. As we have mentioned, an incorrect diagnosis can lead to personal injury or, in extreme cases, death. You may be able to file a lawsuit against the equipment manufacturer or the hospital that maintains the equipment.
It is possible that when problems with diagnosis are caused by faulty equipment, the doctor might not be at fault. it could be difficult or impossible for a doctor and the medical staff to notice a problem with the equipment until obvious mistakes or errors become apparent. However, the hospital might still be responsible for the faulty equipment if they missed reasonable opportunities for maintenance and testing to make sure their equipment was in proper working order.
The Dangers of Misdiagnosis in Maryland
A misdiagnosis occurs when a treating physician or other health professional incorrectly diagnoses an illness or medical condition. This usually leads to harm in two major ways.
First and foremost, if your condition is misdiagnosed, it could worsen, leading to further complications or even death. In many instances, a delay in treatment of the underlying condition could prove catastrophic, especially in cases of cancer, stroke, or kidney disease. With some conditions, days or weeks could mean the difference between making a full recovery and facing a long, drawn-out battle. Especially with acute issues like strokes or heart attacks, every second counts, and a delay in diagnosis can be deadly.
The second major consideration with misdiagnosis cases is that doctors could give an incorrect diagnosis. This means that your true condition goes untreated, but it might mean that you are also given treatments you do not need for a condition you do not have. Some treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy to treat cancer, are incredibly harmful to the body and should never be given unless absolutely necessary. Unnecessary surgeries and removals of healthy tissue could also take place if the doctor diagnosed you with the wrong condition. This can lead to additional harm on top of the worsened condition you are not being treated for.
Whether your treating professional failed to diagnose your condition, misdiagnosed your symptoms, or incorrectly interpreted critical test results, you could have been the victim of medical malpractice and may be entitled to financial compensation.
Proving a Misdiagnosis in a Maryland Lawsuit
A lawsuit for a misdiagnosis is a medical malpractice claim. To prove you were the victim of medical malpractice through a doctor’s or health care provider’s actions requires demonstrating four elements.
Duty of Care
First, you must show that your doctor owed you a duty of care. For Maryland medical malpractice claims, the duty of care is determined by what a similarly trained and prudent medical professional would do under the same circumstances. This legal duty attaches as soon as the doctor-patient relationship is formed. For patients who arrive at an emergency room for help, there is also a duty that attaches at that time, so if you are turned away without ever actually seeing a doctor, it is still possible to sue based on the duty the hospital owed you at the emergency department.
Breach of Duty
Next, you have to establish that your doctor breached that duty of care. In a misdiagnosis case, if your doctor failed to order tests that another prudent and similarly trained physician would have ordered given the same medical factors, their conduct could be considered a breach of duty. To prove this, our law office often must turn to the testimony of medical experts who can testify as to what call they would have made and why your treating physician’s mistakes are indeed mistakes.
The misdiagnosis must have also caused the harm you faced for your case to be heard. In some instances, a misdiagnosis does not change the result of a medical condition. For example, when failing to diagnose something like aggressive, terminal cancer (where treatment could not have slowed or altered the outcome for the patient), a misdiagnosis a week before death probably would not affect the patient’s health. However, misdiagnosis in most other cases is going to lead to cognizable harm. For example, if the symptoms of early-stage cancer were missed and a patient was diagnosed with terminal cancer a year later, the previous failure to recognize the signs could likely constitute a valid medical malpractice claim.
Finally, you must show you suffered some actual damages because of the misdiagnosis. Some common damages associated with a misdiagnosis include extended hospital stays, additional surgeries, lost wages, and wrongful death. If your misdiagnosis resulted in any additional medical care, you have suffered actual damages.
Furthermore, some damages are difficult to explain, such as “lost chance.” Damages for lost chance can cover your missed opportunities – the additional years of health you might have enjoyed if the condition was caught earlier.
How to Discover Misdiagnosis in Maryland Malpractice Cases
As a patient, it might be difficult for you to know that you have been the victim of misdiagnosis. Many doctors caution patients away from self-diagnosis and from reading online about medical conditions on sites such as WebMD. However, this kind of independent research is often how many patients determine what is wrong with them and how many doctors realize mistakes and errors in diagnosis. This is one important step you can take as a patient to help root out misdiagnoses in your own healthcare.
It is also important, however, to speak with other doctors and medical experts about your condition. If you have a feeling that your doctor’s diagnosis is wrong or you are not seeing the improvements you expect in your care, seek a second opinion. Many patients do not know that they were the victim of medical malpractice or misdiagnosis until they seek a second opinion and discover what is actually wrong with them.
Call Our Maryland Attorney for Medical Misdiagnosis for a Free Consultation
We trust our doctors and other medical professionals to properly treat our illnesses and diseases. When a physician fails to diagnose or misdiagnoses a person’s symptoms, it is likely to severely and negatively impact a person’s health and medical condition. Our Maryland attorneys for medical misdiagnosis are dedicated to fighting for individuals who suffered unnecessary medical consequences because of the negligence of their doctor. If you experienced any harm because of a misdiagnosis or if a loved one lost their life because their doctor failed to recognize their symptoms, call the Maryland personal injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free consultation.