Medical Malpractice: Misdiagnosis FAQS

Patients depend on their physicians to correctly diagnose any medical conditions they may have, as well as depend that whatever medical treatment their doctor recommends is the best option for their condition. When a doctor makes a misdiagnosis of a condition that the patient does not have, that patient is not only not receiving the correct treatment they should for the condition they do have, they are receiving treatment for a condition they don’t have and that can put them in great medical danger.

Unfortunately, this happens far too often.  Studies show that in about half of patients who are misdiagnosed, there is the potential the patient will suffer from severe harm. Patients who suffer because of misdiagnosis may be able to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. A Virginia malpractice attorney can evaluate a case to make that determination.

What is the difference between misdiagnosis, missed, delayed, or incorrect diagnosis?

Misdiagnosis is not the only issue that can cause harm to a patient. There can also be a missed diagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or incorrect diagnosis.

With a missed diagnosis, a physician wrongly declares the patient is healthy and there is nothing wrong with them. With a missed diagnosis, the patient has a condition or disease which goes untreated because of the doctor’s failure to diagnose properly.

When a doctor makes an incorrect diagnosis, they reach the wrong conclusion as to what is causing the patient’s symptoms, resulting in the doctor diagnosing the patient with a condition they do not have. The patient can be harmed by the treatment the doctor orders for the wrong diagnosis, as well as for the lack of treatment they are not receiving for the actual medical condition they do have.

A delayed diagnosis results in a significant amount of time between when the patient first approached the doctor complaining about the issue and when the doctor finally correctly diagnoses the issue. There may have been a missed diagnosis, incorrect diagnosis, or misdiagnosis in the interim, however, a great amount of time has passed before the patient finally receives the proper treatment. It is not uncommon for this delay in treatment to cause even more medical problems for the patient.

How does a Virginia malpractice attorney prove malpractice?

In order to be successful in a medical malpractice lawsuit, there are certain elements that a Virginia malpractice attorney must prove:

  • The physician violated the standard of care they are required to provide by failing to accurately diagnose the patient.
  • The patient suffered an injury because of this standard of care violation.
  • The injury suffered by the patient must have resulted in significant damages to the patient, such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

How often do misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis occur?

It is estimated that there are 12 million people who are misdiagnosed each year – often with fatal consequences. Multiple studies have found that incorrect or delayed diagnosis happens much more frequently than patients realize. One study, conducted by the National Academy of Medicine, found that the majority of us will receive at least one incorrect or late diagnosis in our lives. If you or a family member has suffered a serious illness due to a doctor’s missed or late diagnosis, contact a seasoned Virginia medical malpractice attorney to discuss what legal options you may have. The attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp understand how devastating medical errors like these can be to a family, not only emotionally, but also financially. We have successfully represented many clients in obtaining the financial compensation they deserved and will aggressively advocate for you and your family.