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Diagnosis Errors in Virginia Medical Malpractice Claims

A recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University suggests that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US, and the statistics behind this estimate are shocking. Over the eight-year period from 2008-2016 that was the focus of the study:

  • Patient safety experts estimate that more than 250,000 deaths annually are caused by medical errors;
  • Approximately 12 million people in the US who seek outpatient treatment for a medical condition are misdiagnosed, which amounts to about one of every 20 patients;
  • In about half of these diagnosis errors, there is the potential to lead to serious injury for the patient; and,
  • Though studies have focused on medical misdiagnosis in hospital settings, there is evidence that many more patients are suffering from diagnosis errors in clinics and medical offices.

Delays in making a diagnosis or identifying the wrong medical conditions are especially devastating for a patient, as many forms of disease are treatable when properly detected. A skilled Hampton medical malpractice attorney can tell you more about misdiagnosis cases, but an overview may also be useful.

Elements of a Misdiagnosis Case

Though they are based upon negligence, medical malpractice claims based upon a diagnosis error are slightly different than other personal injury cases. Therefore, you must show that:

  • You maintained a healthcare provider-patient relationship;
  • The physician did not provide care in a reasonably competent manner; and,
  • That the failure to provide appropriate care directly cause your injuries.

How Misdiagnosis Errors Happen

Many mistakes in determining a medical condition may give rise to a claim for medical malpractice based upon a diagnosis error, such as:

  • Inaccurate Diagnosis: A health-related issue is present, but the provider identifies the wrong one. This may lead to unnecessary or dangerous course of treatment for the patient.
  • Delayed Diagnosis: The physician correctly identifies an injury or illness, but time has passed. For the patient, treatment options may no longer be available or effective.
  • Failure to Recognize Complications: The doctor makes a correct diagnosis of the primary medical condition, but fails to identify and treat complications.
  • Failure to Diagnose an Associated Condition: Other medical issues may relate from a properly diagnosed condition, but the physician fails to recognize them.

Special Considerations in Medical Malpractice Claims

There can be challenges in pursuing a medical malpractice claim for misdiagnosis because, on its own, this type of error does not firmly establish element #2 above. It is necessary to measure the physician’s acts or omissions up against what a hypothetical doctor in the same specialty, with the same available information, would do. If the two courses of conduct vary significantly, there may be malpractice.

In addition, there must be a direct link between the diagnosis error and a worsening of your medical condition. For example, the failure or delay in diagnosing cancer could make the otherwise-treatable disease terminal. On the other hand, there may not be liable where your medical condition is still treatable after the error.

Get Legal Help from a Knowledgeable Hampton Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered injuries due to a medical error or misdiagnosis, Mr. Hoen can tell you more about your legal options. Please contact Hampton Injury Law at 757.838.1136 or via the website to set up a free consultation.

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