Is It Malpractice if Your Doctor Gives You the Wrong Diagnosis?

Relying on your doctor 100% with a diagnosis is common, but what happens if it turns out wrong? A misdiagnosis can lead to a wide range of issues, while the worst case scenario is fatality. Since the stakes are so high, is it considered malpractice if your doctor gives you the wrong diagnosis? Let’s find out.

Suing For Malpractice Because of Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis is an incorrect identification by your doctor, and it can be serious. Therefore, the wrong medical assumption does come under the umbrella of medical malpractice. Just think of it this way, back pain is dismissed as a muscle strain, while it is a herniated disc. This mislabeling worsens without proper treatment. Similarly, missing a stroke due to misinterpreting symptoms like dizziness (instead of weakness) can have severe consequences.

Well, proving malpractice is not easy and requires evidence. You need information on: 

  • Expert opinions show the doctor fell below standard care standards
  • Medical records documenting the misdiagnosis 
  • Resultant harm

You must also note that the hospitals are usually not liable, as the lawsuit typically focuses on the doctor’s actions.

Things Your Lawyer Must Prove For Establishing Malpractice

1. Doctor-Patient Relationship

For a misdiagnosis to be medical malpractice, a clear doctor-patient relationship must be established. The doctor must provide a certain standard of care and agree to treat the patient.

2. Breach of the Standard of Care

Breach of duty by the doctor due to a diagnostic error that a reasonably competent doctor would not have made in the same situation. This may be ignoring or misinterpreting symptoms or test results or failing to order appropriate tests. The doctor’s actions must fall below the accepted standard of care. 

3. Causation and Harm

The misdiagnosis must directly harm the patient. It may be delaying proper treatment that causes unnecessary treatments to take place, or worsening the patient’s condition. However, if the misdiagnosis did not result in any measurable damages, it may not be considered malpractice. One must prove that the doctor’s negligence was the cause of their harm.

4. Proving Medical Malpractice

To prove medical malpractice due to a misdiagnosis, it requires the testimony of expert witnesses, like other medical professionals, who can attest to the standard of care and the doctor’s breach of that standard. Other than that, provide medical evidence, such as records and test results, to support their claim.

5. Limitations and Considerations

You must note that simply being misdiagnosed does not automatically qualify for a malpractice. Doctors can make some diagnostic errors that may be unavoidable. Additionally, there may be limitations on the time frame in which a patient can file a medical malpractice lawsuit; so, swift action is a must. 

Closing Note

All in all, while misdiagnosis is a solid standing to start a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must meet certain criteria like breach of the standard of care, causation of harm, etc. If you find yourself in a situation where you need legal guidance, our skilled attorneys at Edwards Sutarwalla Samani LLP are here to help. Our teams are led by experts such as George Edwards III, a founder and partner with extensive experience in civil rights. He, along with our other skilled lawyers, can provide you with legal advice and representation where needed. Do not hesitate to contact us at (713) 565-1353 to schedule a consultation.


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