- A doctor-patient relationship existed. This simply suggests that the patient visited their doctor with the intent to address their physical needs. This can be established with just a single visit.
- The doctor acted negligently. This means that they acted in a way that breached the standard of care. In other words, they worked in opposition to that which is considered reasonable for someone in their position under similar circumstances.
- And as a result, the patient was harmed. Negligence does not suggest immediate grounds for malpractice. It is only when the patient is consequentially harmed that a doctor could be held liable.
When proving a malpractice case in diagnosis, you must first demonstrate that your doctor acted negligently. That’s because instances of incorrect diagnoses do not immediately suggest malpractice. Even with reasonable care, skilled doctors are capable of such errors. However, the distinguishing factor between negligence and a merely failed diagnosis is determining if your doctor acted competently. And this requires an extensive evaluation of their actions compared to the standard of care.
What is the standard of care?
The standard of care suggests that under similar circumstances, a doctor in the same specialty would not have overlooked the correct diagnosis. And so this means proving one of two possibilities:
- Your physician did not include the proper diagnosis in their list of differentials as another doctor would have.
- Your doctor failed to perform the appropriate tests or to seek the most beneficial opinions of specialists and, therefore, did not conclude your correct diagnosis.
Errors in diagnostic tests:
The diagnosis of a patient will often require the opinion and evaluation of several health care professionals. And so sometimes, a doctor might misdiagnose as a result of inaccurate test results. There are several reasons why this would take place. Either equipment used to diagnose proved faulty or a human-error occurred. Perhaps samples were somehow compromised, an improper procedure was used, test results were misread, or someone missed something on an x-ray or slide. In these cases, your doctor may not be to blame while someone else is.
The misdiagnosis must have harmed the patient:
This final requirement in proving medical malpractice, states that the patient must have been harmed by the doctor’s failure to diagnose. Typically, in a misdiagnosis case, this indicates that the patient’s injury or condition progressed more than it would have with proper care. Cancer is a typical example of this. Without immediate treatment, quickly-growing cancer can take a far more significant toll than it would otherwise.
If you or a loved one has suffered the implications of a missed or delayed diagnosis, there may be an opportunity for compensation available to you. In this case, be sure to reach out for legal assistance. We at Raynes | Erickson are prepared to offer you compassionate legal counsel and advocacy in this especially difficult time. If you believe that malpractice in diagnosis took place during your treatment, reach out today for help.