Can You Sue A Hospital or Doctor For Misdiagnosis?

Doctor putting on gloves. Can you sue for misdiagnosis?

If a patient suffers harm due to a doctor performing medical treatment below the appropriate standard of care, then the patient can often file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Pennsylvania. The negligent actions performed by a physician may include the failure to diagnose a condition or misdiagnosing a condition. A medical malpractice lawsuit may also be filed against hospitals and other care facilities.

If you are interested in learning more about medical malpractice claims related to misdiagnosis, then you can consult the Medical Malpractice Statistics published by the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania.

Defining Medical Misdiagnosis

Medical misdiagnosis is a complex issue. One of the most fundamental acts performed by a medical doctor is the correct diagnosis of the patient. However, not all doctors perform a correct or appropriately thorough evaluation when they treat a patient, and misdiagnosis often results in patients suffering serious bodily injury or death. Misdiagnosis includes any medical diagnosis that is late, missed, or incorrect.

The most serious type of medical misdiagnosis results in further disability, permanent pain, and, even worse, death. Also, patients may develop a more advanced form of cancer or another disease due to the misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis often gives rise to medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania.

Medical professionals often use EKGs, blood tests, CT scans, and MRIs to assess and diagnose patients. It is necessary to demonstrate the following to assert a legally valid medical malpractice claim based on medical misdiagnosis:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed
  • The patient suffered injuries
  • The injuries were the result of a wrong diagnosis
  • The physician acted negligently or unreasonably when making the diagnosis, and this violated the standard of care
  • The injury caused the patient to suffer harm
  • The patient suffered damages

These elements must be satisfied to prove a medical malpractice claim based on misdiagnosis in Pennsylvania. It is necessary to remember that not every misdiagnosis constitutes medical negligence.

Some doctors make mistakes, but their behavior may not give rise to a medical malpractice claim. One of the best ways to determine if you have a valid medical malpractice claim is to consult a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney.

Proving Misdiagnosis In A Medical Malpractice Case

Physicians are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of infections, illnesses, and diseases. It is necessary to obtain a Certificate of Merit in medical malpractice cases in Pittsburgh. Essentially, the certificate is a statement made by a physician who works in a different field of medicine that the misdiagnosis or other conduct at issue constituted negligence. The Certificate of Merit must be filed within 60 days of the filing of the civil complaint.

Common Types of Medical Misdiagnosis in Pennsylvania

Medical misdiagnosis is not simplistic, and it often requires substantial documentary evidence to prove that a physician misdiagnosed a patient. However, the following are some of the most common forms of medical misdiagnosis:

  • Mixing up laboratory results or providing a patient with the wrong test results
  • Failing to diagnose fetal injuries
  • Failure to provide neonatal care
  • Misreading laboratory test results
  • Failing to refer a patient to a medical specialist
  • Failing to follow up with a patient to research the potential causes of an illness or disease
  • Failing to screen for a specific medical condition

Many different types of illnesses are misdiagnosed by physicians. These include pneumonia, knee injuries, heart attacks, cancer, and asthma. Often, one medical condition will be left untreated, and the patient will suffer more severe symptoms over a longer period of time. Medical misdiagnosis is one of the most common reasons patients will seek a second medical opinion if they have misgivings about recent interactions with their physician.

Damages Caused by Medical Misdiagnosis

Medical misdiagnosis may not always cause a patient to suffer serious bodily injury or death. Some infections, illnesses, and diseases may not produce discernible symptoms for months or years. To assert a medical malpractice claim due to misdiagnosis, the patient must prove that the misdiagnosis caused the patient harm and that the specific harm suffered could have been avoided. The following are common examples of the types of harm caused by medical misdiagnosis:

  • Death
  • Pain, suffering, and scarring due to unnecessary surgical procedures
  • Worsening of a specific medical condition
  • Financial costs associated with inappropriate medical treatment
  • Psychological suffering
  • Reduced life expectancy

Disfigurement and amputation are often the result of misdiagnosis and unnecessary surgeries. Patients are often left irreparably harmed due to medical malpractice, and the only avenue left for them is to seek monetary compensation for their injuries. However, this does not replace the opportunities they miss due to the long-lasting effects of their injuries.

The Statute of Limitations for Medical Misdiagnosis in Pennsylvania

Legal team discussing case. Can you sue for misdiagnosis?The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania is two years from the date the patient discovers or should have discovered that the injury happened. However, there is some nuance. Pennsylvania does have a statute of repose that allows more than a two-year limitation for injuries resulting in death, injuries resulting in misplaced medical devices, injuries while a minor, fraudulent concealment, and injuries that can’t be discovered until much later (Yanakos v. UPMC). If you do not file your medical malpractice claim within the statute of limitations period, then it is possible you will lose the opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries.

Do Not Avoid Medical Treatment for Your Injuries

You should never avoid seeking medical treatment for your injuries, even if those injuries were caused by the medical misdiagnosis of a former physician. If you document your injuries with medical records, you will have an easier time substantiating your legal claims.

It may harm your medical malpractice case if you stop seeking medical treatment after receiving a misdiagnosis.

One of the most fundamental aspects of a medical malpractice claim is causation, and if you receive medical treatment from other physicians, then these additional medical records will establish how the misdiagnosis contributed to your worsening condition.

Requesting Copies of Your Medical Records

medical recordsYou can request copies of your medical records; or, if you retain a medical malpractice attorney, you can sign a medical authorization to allow your attorney to request medical records on your behalf. Medical records will provide your legal team with key information regarding your medical history and the effect any medical misdiagnosis had on your physical, mental, and emotional health.

The more medical records you can provide to your lawyer, the stronger your medical malpractice case will be. However, you will typically not be required to submit medical records requests if you retain a lawyer who will act as your legal representative.

Reach Out to the Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Lawyers at SMT Today for a Free Consultation

Dealing with every element of a medical malpractice claim on your own can be daunting. The medical malpractice lawyers at SMT is ready to help you seek financial compensation for your injuries. You do not have to feel victimized or ignored; we are here to help you recover from your injuries so you can move on to the next stage of your life.

At SMT Legal, we provide our clients with everything they need to enforce their legal rights. If you are searching for legal representation in Pittsburgh, contact us today. We can provide you with more information regarding misdiagnosis claims and your legal rights.

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