Can You Sue for a Misdiagnosis?

Every year, 12 million adults in the United States are misdiagnosed by doctors. That’s 1 in 20 patients.

In a recent shocking case, Dr. Farid Fata plead guilty to misdiagnosing health patients with cancer. He tortured more than 500 patients with unnecessary chemotherapy treatments and took millions of dollars from the government in false Medicare claims. A few of his patients even died.

If a doctor misdiagnosed you, can you sue?

Common Misdiagnoses

With 1 in 20 patients misdiagnosed, doctors actually have a pretty good 95 percent success rate. However, a misdiagnosis could mean an illness goes untreated for too long, or a patient must suffer through unnecessary treatments. Here are some commonly misdiagnosed illnesses:

  1. Asthma — Misdiagnosed as recurring bronchitis
  2. Heart Attack — Misdiagnosed as indigestion, panic attack
  3. Lyme disease — Misdiagnosed as the flu, depression, or mononucleosis
  4. Parkinson’s — Misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s, stroke, or stress
  5. Lupus — Misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or rheumatoid arthritis

Suing for Negligence

In most medical malpractice claims for misdiagnoses, you’d probably be suing for negligence. To claim negligence you’d have to show:

  1. Duty — Did the doctor have a duty to care for you? Normally, when there is a doctor patient relationship, the doctor has a duty to act as a reasonably competent doctor.
  2. Breach — Did the doctor breach the duty? Just because a doctor misdiagnosed an illness, doesn’t necessarily mean he was acting negligently. To show breach of duty, you’d have to be able to prove that a different reasonably competent doctor would have been able to diagnose the illness properly
  3. Causation – Did the doctor’s misdiagnoses actually cause you harm? Your doctor may have misdiagnose you with cancer instead of the flu, but the next day someone ran you over killing you. The doctor’s misdiagnoses was not the cause of your injury.
  4. Damages — Did the misdiagnoses cause you damages? The doctor may have misdiagnosed you with migraines instead of a flu. However, he prescribed you Tylenol, which helped cure your flu as well. This means you didn’t suffer any damages because of the misdiagnosis.

Proving a medical malpractice claim is complex requiring expert testimony and lengthy litigation. If your doctor misdiagnosed you and caused you harm, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney for help.

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