When a doctor fails to make an accurate and timely diagnosis of a harmful medical condition, the patient can suffer serious consequences. The illness can get worse and even lead to death, and patients may also be harmed from incorrect treatment, unnecessary surgical procedures, and medications wrongly given.
According to a Johns Hopkins Study, every year an estimated 80,000 to 160,000 Americans suffer significant permanent injury or death because of medical diagnostic errors. If the misdiagnosis involves a serious disease or condition that requires immediate treatment, early detection, or prompt action — such as a heart attack, stroke, cancer, or other potentially deadly disease – it may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. In the period from 1986 to 2010, 35.2% of all the medical malpractice payouts in America, amounting to $38.8 billion, resulted from a medical misdiagnosis lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious harm or someone has died due to a misdiagnosis and negligent care from a medical professional or facility, you should seek legal assistance to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Medical malpractice cases are complicated, and since symptoms change over time and evidence and witnesses disappear, it is important to contact an attorney experienced in misdiagnosis as soon as possible.
The skilled and experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at Wapner Newman are committed to giving your case individual attention and getting the best settlement possible. Our personal injury lawyers can provide you with dependable guidance and strong legal strategies. We have helped hundreds of clients through the years secure the compensation they need to reclaim their future through our thorough and creative investigative legal solutions. We offer a free consultation to examine your situation and show you how we can help.
Don’t delay. Please contact Wapner Newman today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers and find out whether you have a viable claim.
What Constitutes Misdiagnosis?
Medical professionals and facilities are held to the highest standard of care. They have a duty to use their training and tools like MRIs, CT Scans, blood tests, EKGs and other tests to make the proper diagnosis and to begin treatment in a timely manner. If they do not, what would have been a treatable condition may become untreatable and lead to serious damage or death, and patients may have a valid negligence claim for misdiagnosis.
To win a lawsuit, you and your attorney must show that the duty of care was breached because of the negligent actions or inactions of the medical professionals or facility and that this breach caused an injury or death. You must be able to demonstrate that …
- You have been injured
- The injury is the result of a wrong diagnosis
- The doctor acted unreasonably or negligently when making that diagnosis, and this violated the standard of care – the level of skill that a similarly-trained and experienced doctor would have shown under the circumstances
- The violation led to avoidable harm which caused your injury.
However, not every misdiagnosis is medical negligence. For example, if the results of the mistake were not serious, or the disease may have been too advanced for available treatment to have made a difference, you would not have a claim. Some mistakes, such as when symptoms are the same as those for another condition, may be reasonable, so determining whether the standard of care was violated requires the testimony of expert witnesses in the fields involved.
Common Misdiagnosis Areas
Misdiagnosis may involve:
- failure to screen for a particular medical condition
- failure to properly follow up and investigate potential causes of symptoms
- failure to refer a patient to a specialist
- misinterpretation of or failure to obtain lab test results and communicate to patients
- failure to notice and diagnose fetal problems or birth injury, and failure to call in a necessary specialist for neonatal or maternal care.
- laboratory mistakes, such as reading the wrong sample or mixing up patients’ lab results
Some of the most common illnesses that are misdiagnosed are:
- asthma – misdiagnosed as bronchitis
- cancer – biopsy errors or misreading test results may cause cancer to be overlooked and left untreated, or false positives may lead to unnecessary treatment
- heart attack – misdiagnosed as indigestion or panic attack
- orthopedic and joint problems, including wrist, hip, femur and knee injuries
- pneumonia and pulmonary embolism and aneurysm that may not show up on chest X-rays.
What is Harm?
You and your attorney must prove that the misdiagnosis caused you actual harm and that the harm could have been avoided.
Examples of harm include:
- a shortened life expectancy
- emotional trauma
- expenses and pain for inappropriate treatments
- unnecessary worsening of the medical condition
- scarring and disfigurement from unnecessary surgery
- death from the treatment or lack of treatment.
What Compensation is Available?
If you win a lawsuit, compensation will depend on the specific types of harm you suffered and can include:
- Economic damages for things like medical expenses and lost wages
- Non-economic damages for “intangibles” like loss of life’s pleasures, pain, suffering and grief
- In rare cases, punitive damages to punish medical professionals who have acted recklessly or intended to harm patients.
Be aware that, generally, there is a two-year time limit for filing medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania, although there may be additional time allowed for medical injuries involving children and where the injury was not immediately known.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has suffered from medical misdiagnosis, time is of the essence. It is essential to have a skilled and knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer on your side.
The seasoned and compassionate Philadelphia, Pennsylvania medical misdiagnosis attorneys at Wapner Newman offer a free consultation to examine the facts of your situation and determine whether you do have a viable medical malpractice claim. Our unique legal approach helps ensure that no stone is left unturned as we investigate and document every detail relating to your misdiagnosis claim and do everything possible to get you the settlement you deserve.
Don’t delay. Contact us online or call our offices today for your free consultation.