When someone visits a doctor, there is the expectation that the physician will make the right diagnosis and outline an appropriate treatment plan. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many situations.
Misdiagnosis is a common problem, and it is an error that can have considerable consequences. Whether it is a case of the doctor failing to make a diagnosis or getting it wrong, the patient may be able to take legal action if it resulted in a worsening of the condition, a separate injury or death.
Percentage of misdiagnosis errors
According to AARP, the percent of people who receive wrong diagnoses is so high that it is almost imperative to seek a second, or even third, opinion. More than 20% of patients receive completely wrong diagnoses, while 66% require changes to the initial diagnoses. In fact, only around 12% of patients receive correct diagnoses the first time around. Diagnosis errors result in an average of 11% of adverse reactions and around 10% of patient deaths.
Basis for legal action
According to FindLaw, the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions are asthma, heart attack, Lyme disease, Parkinson’s and lupus. Misdiagnosis can result in more harm or death to the patient, make the condition worse or delay proper treatment.
Making an incorrect diagnosis, or none at all, can have legal consequences if the physician, pharmacy or hospital violated the standard of care and the misdiagnosis led to an injury or death. In order to prove that a misdiagnosis caused a worse issue, the patient or family must be able to prove four elements: duty, breach, causation and damages.