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Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice Cases Can be Difficult Cases


When doctors commit malpractice it sometimes isn’t so much that they did something wrong, or botched a procedure, or did something “poorly.” Often, the problem is that they didn’t do anything at all, or else, that they completely diagnosed what you actually had, with something else, called misdiagnosis.

Like “active malpractice,” where the doctor just does something wrong, a doctor can also be liable for malpractice where there is a misdiagnosis.

Damages in Misdiagnosis Cases

The damages from a misdiagnosis case can range, and may vary depending on who the victim may be.

In some cases, the patient may be no worse for wear despite the misdiagnosis. Imagine a doctor that misdiagnoses a teenager’s cough, and totally misses the fact that the teen has the flu. In all likelihood, assuming good health, the teen will have a harder, longer recovery, but he or she will likely recover.

But if that person isn’t a teen, but is an older person, or someone with an underlying condition that makes them particularly susceptible to respiratory infections, and the flu is misdiagnosed, that misdiagnosis can end up being deadly.

Misdiagnosing Cancer

Cancer creates special problems in misdiagnosis cases, because unlike many other diseases, cancer progresses throughout time, if not treated quickly enough. So, in cases where someone alleges that the doctor missed their cancer, there are causation issues—the core question is that if the doctor had, in fact, seen and properly diagnosed the cancer, would there have been enough time (that is, would it have been diagnosed early enough), for the victim to treat the cancer? Or would the cancer have spread anyway by that time?

There are no easy answers in cancer misdiagnosis cases. We often don’t know exactly when cancer progresses too much to be treated, or when it is still treatable. We do know that in misdiagnosis cases, the later someone sees a doctor that ultimately misses a cancer diagnosis, the harder it is to get compensation for that patient.

The Standard of Care

Just as in any malpractice case, in misdiagnosis cases, the question is whether or not the doctor exercised the appropriate standard of care, based on the situation, and the doctor’s area of specialty or expertise. This is a fact intensive process, and often in malpractice cases, the defense puts blame on the victim.

Defendants in misdiagnosis cases will often say that victims/patients didn’t tell the doctor everything the doctor would have needed to know to make the proper diagnosis. Right or wrong, it does bring home the importance for patients to tell doctors everything they are feeling and experiencing, so that the doctor has the best possible chance of making the correct diagnoses.

Patients who minimize symptoms, or don’t tell the doctor exactly how they are feeling, not only risk misdiagnosis, but risk losing the ability to get compensation in the event the doctor misdiagnoses.

Were you a victim of medical malpractice? Call the Knoxville personal injury attorneys at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today.




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