A doctor folding his arms and holding a stethoscopeEveryone makes mistakes, even experienced and seasoned medical professionals. With that in mind, as a patient, how can you tell if you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice? Malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a professional in the medical field who failed to competently perform his or her duties, but not every mistake is unreasonable—doctors can’t be legally responsible for every single diagnostic error. In this blog, we’re looking at medical malpractice through misdiagnosis, what constitutes a viable case and how you can prove that malpractice occurred.

What Does Medical Malpractice Entail?

For a medical malpractice case, you must prove the existence of a doctor-patient relationship, negligence from the provider, harm from that negligence and specific damages caused by the harm. Most medical malpractice claims fall into three categories:

  • Failure to diagnose—a competent doctor would have discovered the patient’s illness or made a different diagnosis leading to a better outcome.
  • Improper treatment—a doctor provided treatment that no other competent doctor would have provided.
  • Failure to warn a patient of risks—a patient made a treatment decision without understanding the associated risks and would have made a different decision had other information been provided.

Not All Misdiagnoses Are Malpractice

It’s important to note that not every error made by a medical professional is a malpractice suit waiting to happen. Diagnostic errors and mistakes can and will happen even when a doctor falls within the standards of reasonable care. The key is the previously mentioned benchmark of competence—was the doctor acting reasonably with his or her diagnosis? Sometimes misdiagnoses can happen through the failure of diagnostic equipment or human error not related to the doctor. In these cases the doctor would likely not be at risk of facing a lawsuit, but an equipment manufacturer or technician might be.

Do You Have a Case?

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice through misdiagnosis cases doesn’t last forever—here in Massachusetts, you must make a claim within three years of the malpractice occurrence. Our team has extensive experience in this field; Kevin Chrisanthopoulos was selected as one of America’s Top 100 Medical Malpractice Litigators® in 2021. Do you think you have a case? Our team can help you through the process, just contact us today to learn more.