Being diagnosed with anything at the doctor’s office or in a hospital can be a scary feeling. What’s your future? What can you do about it?
In serious cases, it’s prudent to get a second and maybe even a third opinion. Such moves might discover that you got an inaccurate diagnosis from the first doctor. Potential inaccuracies can include the following:
- Being diagnosed later than you should have been.
- Getting diagnosed with the wrong severity.
- Having a diagnosis for something else entirely.
An inaccurate diagnosis can potentially mean delayed treatment, improper treatment, or incorrect treatment levels. All can damage your health and disrupt your life. They can also open the door to legal consequences.
The laws regarding medical malpractice vary from state to state. However, doctors are not usually held legally liable for every case of inaccurate diagnosis. If you intend to pursue legal remedies, you will have certain responsibilities to stay within the bounds of.
1. The Clock Is Ticking
You and your personal injury lawyer will only have so much time to file your case. The statute of limitations varies from one state to the next. Many allow a few years. As All Law illustrates, you might have two or three years after the date of diagnosis, but you might also have only a year after the date it was discovered the diagnosis was incorrect. Filing after your statute of limitations has passed will usually mean automatic rejection of your petition for compensation.
2. The Burden of Proof Matters
The actual definitions of medical malpractice can get very technical, and they do vary by state. However, as NOLO lays out, there are primarily three things you must prove if you want to be successful in your medical malpractice lawsuit due to inaccurate diagnosis:
- There was a definite doctor-patient relationship.
- Your doctor was actually negligent. The treatment or diagnosis did not occur with skill or competence.
- The negligence of the doctor resulted in actual harm to you as a patient.
Keep in mind that doctors might not be the only ones you pursue action against. Nurses and technicians can also be responsible for specific errors or breaches of care that result in a misdiagnosis you go through.
3. You’ll Be Under a Microscope Too
Your doctor or their insurance will hire legal representation, too. They’ll look into you just as much as your own lawyer investigates your physician. As Find Law points out, they might try and argue you didn’t do certain things, including failing to follow doctor’s orders, waiting around to see if you need more care, and deliberately waiting until your condition deteriorates in order to have more ammunition for a medical malpractice suit. It’s an unfortunate reality that patients do any of these things, but they do happen. They can also all be grounds for a successful defense against your complaint.
Hopefully, your diagnostic process actually caught your condition in time to treat it, whether it was the first test or a subsequent one. Whether or not you choose to pursue legal remedies against your physician is your choice, but at least you know the primary legal ramifications now.