When we think of medical malpractice the images of severe surgical errors come to mind. Perhaps you are picturing an operation performed on the wrong limb or sewing up a patient leaving a clamp or other surgical tool inside. No doubt that these are forms of medical malpractice, but did you know that missed diagnoses are also forms of medical malpractice and there are thousands of medical malpractice lawsuits filed each year stemming from botched or missed diagnoses.
Doctors are bound to act within certain bounds of professional conduct. As such, they must operate within the minimal standards set by the industry in which they work. Succinctly, doctors do have to be the greatest doctors to hold a license for practice. They must exhibit enough competence to not endanger one's life or health through negligence.
Misdiagnosis and Malpractice?
Admittedly, not every condition is easy to diagnose. Many illnesses present with similar symptoms, and other disease, like cancer, can present as symptoms that appear to be something far less serious. When such diseases occur, a doctor must often take additional steps to arrive at the correct diagnosis. Standards set within the medical industry guide them and help dictate the precautions they should take.
Yes, a misdiagnosis is a form of medical malpractice, and your ability to pursue compensation is largely dependent upon the disease or condition, the industry standards regarding detection of the condition, and whether the doctor took all the necessary steps to properly identify the disease, and still missed it.
Medical Malpractice Suits
Scores of questions arise regarding a misdiagnosis and legal proceedings can become arduous. The law will not hold doctors responsible for each and every possible diagnostic error. In order for a case of medical malpractice to prevail there are certain stipulations that must be fulfilled. These include establishing proof of a doctor-patient relationship, showing the doctor's inability to meet minimum industry skill standards, and proving negligence led to the actual injury of the patient.
Proving these matters is not easy and rely heavily on expert witnesses. Expert witnesses are typically other doctors practicing in the same specialty who has knowledge of the situation and can render an opinion about what should have occurred. Identifying and getting this expert to testify at trial, along with navigating the numerous other complications a medical malpractice suit features requires a wise, skilled and qualified medical malpractice attorney.