Misdiagnosis in Georgia
Securing fair and full compensation for victims of misdiagnosis
The National Academy of Medicine defines misdiagnosis – or diagnostic error – as the failure to establish an accurate and timely explanation of the patient’s health problem(s) or communicate that explanation to the patient. Misdiagnosis is a major cause of serious harm among medical errors, as one-third of all med mal cases in the U.S. that result in death or permanent injury stem from initial misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis. Proving misdiagnosis can be complex, so having experienced counsel on your side is important. Bell Law Firm has extensive trial experience and has recovered millions for clients whose cases arose from misdiagnosis.
Is a misdiagnosis malpractice?
Misdiagnosis is when a healthcare provider makes an incorrect or delayed diagnosis of a patient’s medical condition. Misdiagnosis can happen for various reasons, including incomplete information, similar symptoms among different conditions, or errors in diagnostic testing. While a misdiagnosis can have serious consequences for a patient, it may not necessarily be considered malpractice if the healthcare provider acted reasonably and diligently.
Medical malpractice involves negligence or a failure of the healthcare professional to provide the standard of care. This negligence must directly result in harm or injury to the patient. If misdiagnosis occurs due to a healthcare provider’s negligence – for instance, they didn’t conduct the proper tests, ignored critical information, or failed to consult with a specialist when appropriate – it could be considered medical malpractice.
Simply put: not every misdiagnosis counts as medical malpractice. To establish malpractice, patients need to demonstrate healthcare provider negligence and that the negligence directly led to harm or injury.
Can you sue for malpractice for misdiagnosis?
As we’ve covered, a misdiagnosis alone does not necessarily constitute medical malpractice. In a medical malpractice case, the victim must prove three elements:
- Negligence: a typical doctor in a similar medical practice and situation would not have made the same diagnostic mistake
- Causation: the negligence caused harm or injury to the patient
- Damages: injuries or losses you suffered from the negligence
One of the most serious risks posed by a diagnostic error is that a patient may receive the wrong treatment or medication after the misdiagnosis or a severe condition. If your health deteriorates due to improper treatment or medication, a medical malpractice attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, which might include a medical malpractice lawsuit.
How to prove misdiagnosis
Proving misdiagnosis can be challenging, so it’s smart to work alongside expert legal counsel. To establish that a diagnostic error occurred and potentially pursue a legal claim, you’ll need to gather evidence that supports your case. This could include medical records detailing test results, imaging reports, doctor’s notes, and any correspondence. An attorney will consult with other medical professionals to determine whether the initial diagnosis was reasonable given the available information and then compare that information to medical guidelines and standards related to the condition you were diagnosed with.
What to do if your doctor misdiagnoses you
If you believe a healthcare provider has misdiagnosed you, there are several steps you can take to address the situation.
- Seek a second opinion by consulting another medical professional or specialist.
- Obtain copies of your medical records.
- Communicate with your doctor and ask questions. Share your concerns and ask for clarification on the diagnosis.
- Consider consultation with a medical malpractice attorney. If you suspect negligence on the part of the doctor or believe the misdiagnosis caused you harm, contact an attorney who can advise you on whether you have grounds for legal action.
- Document everything and keep records of all medical appointments, conversations, and any relevant documents.
What are common causes of misdiagnosis?
In some cases, a medical misdiagnosis might be the result of a physician’s failure to:
- Send a patient to an appropriate specialist
- Screen for a particular disease or condition
- Read lab test results properly
- Consult properly with the patient about his or her symptoms
- Consider other diagnoses with similar presenting symptoms
- Follow through and determine possible causes of the patient’s symptoms
- Communicate with fellow healthcare providers, resulting in crucial information being overlooked
- Follow-up on test results or track a patient’s progress
- Understand underlying health conditions
What medical conditions are commonly misdiagnosed?
No medical professional sets out to purposefully misdiagnose a patient. However, mistakes still happen for a variety of reasons, such as rushing the examination, not listening to the patient, and failing to review diagnostic tests. If you believe you were misdiagnosed by a healthcare provider, please consider contacting an attorney who routinely advocates on behalf of medical malpractice victims. In the meantime, one way to protect yourself is to understand the more commonly misdiagnosed conditions.
Certain cancers like skin or colon cancer are relatively easy to diagnose through biopsy. Other cancers are more subtle and difficult to diagnose. These could include pancreatic, testicular, kidney, brain, and liver cancers. Sarcoma and non-small cell lung cancer can also be difficult to diagnose early and often are detected after they’ve already spread.
Heart attack symptoms can easily be mistaken for other, less dangerous medical problems like heartburn, acid reflux, esophagitis, and bronchitis. Younger people and women are more often misdiagnosed because they don’t always fit the profile that healthcare professionals expect.
Stroke can mimic migraine, epileptic seizures or postictal states, psychogenic disease or conversion disorder, toxic-metabolic abnormalities, and demyelinating disease. If a stroke is suspected, request a CT scan and MRI as quickly as possible – time is critical when treating strokes. Requesting the proper diagnostic tests in a timely manner is one way to protect yourself from a misdiagnosis or mismanaged stroke.
Additional conditions and more information can be found here.
How do I sue for misdiagnosis in Georgia?
If you or a loved one has been harmed by substandard care, you may want to file a lawsuit. Here’s how to start your medical negligence case.
- Find a qualified attorney with a history of success in medical negligence cases and experience taking cases all the way to trial. The greater the harm, the more providers, employers and insurers will get involved. That’s when you need the most qualified, experienced counsel.
- Obtain and review medical records. Once the attorneys have evaluated your case, they should help you obtain certified medical records from the healthcare organization where the negligence occurred. Qualified attorneys like Bell Law Firm will then review the medical records closely in consultation with medical experts to identify the precise actions and inactions that resulted in negligence.
- Obtain an expert affidavit. Once you and your attorneys have identified what went wrong, the case should be evaluated by qualified healthcare professionals (experts) who are willing to testify on your behalf. Some states, including Georgia, will reject the lawsuit if it is not supported by an expert’s sworn affidavit.
- File the complaint. A complaint is a document that launches the lawsuit. It should tell your story clearly and thoroughly based on the medical records and other evidence. A complaint should also spell out each instance of alleged negligence as a “claim” or a “cause of action.” That way, the court and defendants know you’ve done your homework and are backed by qualified attorneys and experts.
Keep in mind that every state has a deadline for filing a complaint. With narrow exceptions, Georgia requires filing within two years after the alleged negligence harmed the patient.
Bell Law Firm is ready to help you receive full and fair compensation. If you believe you have a misdiagnosis case, do not delay in contacting Bell Law Firm for a free consultation. Call us today at 404-249-6768 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.