Doctors make mistakes. Every year, in fact, hundreds of thousands of patients are seriously injured or lose their lives as a result of physician malpractice. There are many ways that doctors can fail to meet their duties to patients. One of the most common is in misdiagnosing patients. This kind of malpractice can happen in any type of medical issue. To establish a malpractice lawsuit a patient must show the following elements.
The first element is that the individual was a patient of the doctor. The second element is that the doctor failed to provide treatment in a competent and skillful manner; in other words the doctor was negligent. The last element is that the doctor’s negligence in misdiagnosis was the actual and legal cause of an injury.
Usually the first element is not at issue in malpractice cases. However, the element of the doctor’s negligence is usually contested. Merely misdiagnosing a condition or disease is not in itself proof that the doctor was negligent. Generally in misdiagnosis cases the differential diagnosis method the doctor applied to reach the conclusion must be examined.
The differential diagnosis is a method that doctors should use to diagnose patients. This requires the doctor to list all possible diagnoses and eliminate incorrect diagnoses by asking the patient questions, or by performing laboratory and other tests. If this method was used to diagnose the patient’s problem, a court will determine whether a reasonably competent doctor would have correctly identified the real medical issue. The doctor will be liable for malpractice if the doctor included the correct diagnosis on the differential list, but failed to perform tests or investigate the diagnosis. The doctor can also be liable if the doctor did not include the correct diagnosis on the list and a reasonably skillful doctor would have. The standard for how a reasonably skillful doctor would act depends, in part, on the type of practice the doctor was engaged in; whether they were a family doctor or other specialist. Specialists are judged by the national standards of physicians in the same practice type. Family practitioners on the other hand are judged according to the standards of the local area.
One common circumstance were misdiagnoses arise in is with cancer. A doctor may fail to use the diagnostic method, and thus fail to recognize the correct diagnosis. Alternatively, the doctor may recognize the possibility of cancer, but decides on another diagnosis without doing proper testing. The patient must show that the failure to competently diagnose the condition also caused them harm. This can usually be shown if the patient was forced to undergo a more intensive, longer lasting, or more costly treatment because of the misdiagnosis.
Very few doctors are reported for their mistakes. This needs to change to improve medical care and accountability for doctors. If you believe that you have been harmed by the unreasonable mistakes of a physician contact the West Palm Beach medical misdiagnosis attorneys at the Law Offices of William E. Johnson, P.A. Our attorneys will ensure that you get the compensation entitled to you by law from negligent medical care providers. For a free consultation with one of our West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyers call 561-832-4848. Our offices serve the areas of West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, North Palm Beach, and all of South Florida.