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Delayed or Incorrect Medical Diagnosis - Reclaiming Your Future

Steve Wagner

What really is the probability of getting misdiagnosed with an illness when you go in for a regular checkup to your local healthcare provider? It is usually somebody else who gets the wrong diagnosis or, at best, something that happens in Grey’s Anatomy. We tend to think it would never happen to us or an immediate relative. However, the odds are certainly not in our favor.

What are the chances of a medical misdiagnosis?
Eli Lilly and Company, in an article in the Indianapolis Business Journal, released the results of a study this year that deduced that nearly 1 out of every 5 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has likely been misdiagnosed. Another study conducted by Dr. David Newman-Toker, Associate Professor of Neurology at John Hopkins, revealed that on review of over 25 years of malpractice claims (from 1986), misdiagnoses cause a major chunk of the payouts rather than surgical errors or actual medication overdoses. In the analysis of data from the National Practitioner Databank, of the 350,706 paid claims, about 35.2% of payments were made because of diagnostic errors. To quote Dr. Newman-Toker, “This is more evidence that diagnostic errors could easily be the biggest patient safety and medical malpractice problem in the United States.”

Getting Justice for Misdiagnosis
A missed diagnosis or a wrong one is most often the cause of fatal outcomes, affecting not just individuals, but entire families. This results in wrong treatment, delay in treatment or no treatment at all. When this happens, a patient’s situation may become worse or the patient can even die. Victims are entitled to and deserve compensation for their suffering. In order to proceed with a case for a claim, it is important to be aware of the laws with regard to medical malpractice, and the method of establishing a misdiagnosis case.

Medical Malpractice Laws
While the general medical malpractice laws are consistent all across the country, specific rules vary from one state to the next. These pertain to the time limit for filing a claim, the kind of negligence, and the compensation awarded for various damages.

Two limits exist in Indiana medical malpractice law:

  • Time Limit – The claim must be filed within 2 years from the date of injury. The limit is extended to the 8th birthday for minors under the age of 6, with some exceptions.
  • Compensation Limits- Total limit- $1,250,000. Liability limit per care provider- $250,000.

Establishing a Case
When filing a case for compensation, the following must be proven:

  • Existence of a doctor-client relationship
  • Doctor’s negligence in providing skillful and competent treatment
  • Doctor’s negligence resulted in injury to the victim

Proving Negligence

  • On part of the doctor – The victim must be able to prove that a similar specialty doctor, in similar circumstances would not have arrived at a misdiagnosis. In such a case the victim must be able to show that either the doctor did not include the right diagnosis in the list, or even if he did, he did not perform essential tests or consult with specialists, in order to establish the diagnosis.
  • On part of others – Faulty laboratory or radiology equipment which resulted in inaccurate results and thus misdiagnosis by the doctor.
  • Human error – lab samples got mixed-up or contaminated, the technician used an incorrect procedure, read the results wrongly, or missed a vital sign in the x-ray/pathology slide.

Proving Injury to the Victim
It must be proven that the misdiagnosis caused harm to the patient due to wrong treatment or delayed treatment, and made the patient’s condition worsen. For instance, a delay in cancer treatment can cause it to recur or requires even more severe treatment or even death. The patient can also prove that he had to undergo emotional trauma and stress, suffer other medical problems, and bear additional expenses due to incorrect and delayed treatment.

If you or your loved ones have been the victims of failure to diagnose a medical illness or a wrongly diagnosed condition, get in touch with our medical malpractice attorney for a free consultation on how you can get justice for your suffering. Contact us at (888) 204-8440 for a free consultation immediately.


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