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Posted in Medical Malpractice on April 21, 2022   |  by Gary Burger

Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose in Medical Malpractice Claims

Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose in Medical Malpractice Claims. A correct and timely diagnosis is one of the most important aspects of getting a patient proper treatment. Every year in the United States, an estimated 12 million are misdiagnosed, and 40,000 to 80,000 people die from resulting complications. If a doctor diagnosed you or a loved one incorrectly or failed to diagnose you, you may have a medical malpractice case. At Burger Law, we have over 30 years of experience holding negligent doctors accountable in Missouri and Illinois and always get great results for our clients. If you were caused further injury because a doctor did not diagnose a condition correctly, call our medical malpractice lawyers today at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online.

Can I Sue for a Misdiagnosis?

Technically, anybody can file a lawsuit for virtually any perceived wrongdoing. Whether or not your claim will be successful depends on the specifics of your case, as well as the skill of your malpractice lawyer. In a misdiagnosis medical malpractice claim, there will typically be two main points of contention:

  1. Whether the failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis was due to a violation of the standard of care.

    Medical malpractice cases are based on what's called the standard of care, which is how a competent or prudent doctor in a specific field in a specific location would treat a specific condition. Not all failures to diagnose or misdiagnoses amount to substandard care. Say you go to the emergency room or your primary care physician with a complaint that sounds typical of a common condition, and you are given that diagnosis and the doctor gives you a treatment plan. A week later, your symptoms worsen and you go back to the original doctor, who refers you to a specialist who then makes the correct diagnosis after further tests. That would not amount to a violation of the standard of care because the original doctor followed his or her training and reacted appropriately when their treatment plan wasn't working.

    If a doctor fails to diagnose you because they don't take your complaints seriously, or they fail to seek consultation when their treatment plan isn't working, you may be able to make a malpractice claim.

  2. Whether you suffered damages or loss because of the failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis.

    In any personal injury case, including medical malpractice, you must be able to show that you suffered some form of loss or injury in order to make a claim. For example, you go to the emergency room with a hairline fracture in your arm and the ER doctor misses the fracture on the X-Ray. If you go to another emergency room the next day and they do diagnose the fracture, you likely do not have a case because you did not sustain any damages. So even if a doctor breached the standard of care in your diagnosis, you will not have a claim unless you can demonstrate that the failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis caused you direct harm.

    Conversely, say you go to the emergency room with stomach pain and the doctor writes it off as indigestion. Later, your appendix bursts and you need emergency surgery. In that case, you may very well have a claim against the doctor who blew off your concerns.

As part of a medical malpractice claim, you must have expert testimony establishing the standard of care in your case. The expert should be in the same field as the doctor you are suing and should practice in the same geographical region. It would be unwise to have a neurologist in Chicago testify against a family doctor in Flint Hill, MO, because neurologists and family doctors have different specialties and would not necessarily be expected to diagnose or treat a condition in the same way. Additionally, doctors in different communities may follow different guidelines. Burger Law works with a network of trusted doctors and medical experts throughout Missouri and Illinois to establish negligence in medical malpractice cases.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Illinois and Missouri | Burger Law

Burger Law's medical malpractice lawyers have offices in Chicago and St. Louis and serve the injured everywhere in Missouri and Illinois. We trust doctors when we are at our most vulnerable. When they violate the standard of care and don't give you the treatment you deserve, Burger Law will stand by your side and help you get maximum compensation for your injuries. Our consultation and initial investigation are free, so there is no risk in calling us to discuss your case. Call our medical malpractice lawyers today at (314) 500-HURT or fill out our online form.