How Can You Prove a Medical Misdiagnosis?
A medical misdiagnosis can have a serious impact on your health and wellbeing. When a doctor reaches a conclusion regarding your health, you are then subject to treatment and even potential surgical intervention. But if this decision was made in error, you may have had unnecessary treatments or a more serious problem may have been ignored. This is why it’s important to talk to a misdiagnosis lawyer in Baltimore if you’ve been misdiagnosed by medical professionals.
Incorrect diagnoses happen more often than people realize. A thorough review of studies conducted by London’s Royal College of Physicians found that mistaken diagnoses account for about 10% of negative outcomes in hospitals. The same report backed up Harvard’s study, which found that diagnostic errors were actually more common than other acts of medical malpractice. Even the most prestigious medical systems in Baltimore aren’t immune to this. So, if you’ve been misdiagnosed, what can a misdiagnosis lawyer do about it?
How Can a Misdiagnosis Lawyer Prove a Medical Misdiagnosis?
What Qualifies for a Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?
Before we can determine how a lawyer will tackle such a suit, we need to know whether it’s possible to file for one in the first place. Not every misdiagnosis qualifies for a lawsuit. The law in Maryland outlines the situations where a lawsuit is warranted. When it comes to medical situations, the law requires that there be some degree of negligence that caused an injury. These two terms are important to understand when it comes to misdiagnosis lawsuits.
Suing for Negligence
In order for there to be a lawsuit, the misdiagnosis must be caused by negligence. Negligence in medical practice is a doctor’s failure to follow a proper procedure, or the failure to recognize symptoms of a condition and act accordingly. For instance, if you had a doctor that never performed a prostate exam despite being a male in your 50s, and you were later found to have prostate cancer, this could be a clear example of negligence.
Negligence may also be proven if your doctor did not take action to rule out a condition that was indicated by symptoms. If you complain about pain in your chest, your doctor should run tests to check on your cardiovascular health. Not doing this could result in a missed diagnosis. Finally, you could argue negligence if a doctor simply misread your symptoms or test results and did not arrive at the correct diagnosis.
Negligence Resulting in Injury
Negligence alone, however, is not enough to force a Maryland doctor to court. The negligence must result in injury to you. This injury could be physical, for instance, if a condition went undiagnosed and you suffered physical harm as a result. Injury can also be financial, for example, if a misdiagnosis led to expensive tests or taking costly medication that was not covered by your insurance.
Emotional distress or trauma from a misdiagnosis may also be included in a lawsuit, but only if other more tangible injuries occur. You cannot just sue a doctor because of a misdiagnosis if no actual injury took place. Medicine is not a perfect science, and some doctors make certain judgment calls different than other physicians would in the same situtation. Even when a procedure is done properly and a doctor was acting in accordance with accepted protocols, misdiagnoses can still happen. But when negligence and injury combine, you should call a lawyer.
How a Lawyer Proves a Medical Misdiagnosis in Baltimore
If you believe your case meets the criteria for a lawsuit, you should consult a misdiagnosis lawyer. After you explain all of the details, the first thing your lawyer will do is gather documents. Your claim must be proven in a civil court to a jury in order for a judge to award you compensation for your damages. It is also possible that your claim could result in a settlement before it is brought in court. Both sitautions will require hard evidence, which is typically found on paper.
What documents should you provide to support your case?
Start by collecting any documents that date back to the beginning of symptoms, if you are dealing with a missed diagnosis. Even if you were visiting the doctor for another reason, it’s important to establish when you first brought up these symptoms with your doctor. Appointment confirmations and receipts for your visits will be sufficient to establish your timeline. From there, your lawyer can request medical records directly from the hospital.
Hospital records will be more complete. If you complained about pain or discomfort, that will likely be noted on the forms the medical practitioners filled out during your visit. If you were given an incorrect diagnosis that led to treatment, it will be even easier to establish proof since you’ll have more documents to support the misdiagnosis in the form of your receipts for treatment or your medication records.
Proving That Injury Occurred
Since negligence alone is not sufficient to win a misdiagnosis lawsuit, the next step is to prove that the misdiagnosis led to the injury. If your doctor missed a serious condition that later required treatment, then your lawyer can make the argument that you required more treatment due to the delay between detection and action. If you received unnecessary treatment, the cost of this intervention can be considered a quantifiable injury.
Financial damages from other sources will be taken into consideration. If you missed work to visit the hospital, for instance, and therefore lost wages, we can add this to the injury total. If you had to drive a significant distance to the hospital, count up your mileage as well. Keep your parking receipts if you had to pay to park at the hospital. If you paid for someone to watch your children while you visited the hospital, that counts too.
Swaying the Jury
Key to any civil case is persuading the jury to rule in your favor. Doctors are prepared for such cases thanks to their large malpractice insurance policies and hospital legal teams. They will try to make the argument that there was no way to conclusively determine your diagnosis, or that your misdiagnosis would have occured no matter who was rendering the treatment, and therefore, he or she was not negligent.
However, an experienced misdiagnosis lawyer knows the ins and outs of the medical system. They will examine the actions the medical staff took in your case and compare that to the standard procedure. Any missteps or deviations from normal protocols can be used to justify claims of negligence. Your lawyer will also place emphasis on the injuries you sustained to encourage the jury to right the wrong by ruling in your favor.
How Much Can I Get From a Misdiagnosis Settlement?
Although pain and suffering damages, also known as non-economic damages, are capped by Maryland law, juries have extensive freedom in awarding economic damages. When life-altering conditions result from medical negligence, you may be able to get a significant award from the court. In fact, the largest verdict in the United States came out of Baltimore due to negligence at one of our local hospitals.
The most important thing you can do in these situations is speak to an attorney that has experience with medical malpractice and misdiagnosis cases. Peter Angelos Law firm has experts that have handled misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose cases. We can help you win yours. Call Peter Angelos Law today to schedule an appointment and speak to one of our representatives.