A diagnosis error can lead to serious illness, overwhelming medical costs, and in unfortunate cases wrongful death. These errors are not only tragic, but also negligent. If your doctor has failed to detect a severe illness, such as heart disease or cancer, even when faced with obvious symptoms, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and damages. If you’ve lost a loved one because a careless doctor failed to make a correct diagnosis, contact our Fort Lauderdale misdiagnosis attorneys to file a lawsuit on their behalf. We have the experience necessary to successfully fight your case and we charge no fees until we win your case.
What to Do If You Believe You’ve Been the Victim of a Medical Misdiagnosis
We all put trust in our healthcare providers, particularly to identify disease and take steps to address it before it becomes worse. When a healthcare provider fails to diagnose a reasonably foreseeable health condition and it leads to harm, you might be able to collect compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you believe you’ve been the victim of a medical misdiagnosis, take the following steps:
Follow Your Gut
Misdiagnosis is more common that you might think, with some experts estimating they occur in 10-30% of all medical cases. While medical professionals can rectify many of these errors before they cause harm to a patient, it isn’t always the case. If you feel that something is wrong with your medical diagnosis or course of treatment, trust your instincts. Whatever you do, don’t assume that everything is fine.
Be Your Own Advocate
As a patient, you have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent additional harm or injury related to your condition. This means that you have a responsibility to follow your doctor’s orders, take your medications, and comply with any orders for therapy or rehabilitation. You also have a duty to seek treatment if you think that something is wrong with your care. This means you must be your own advocate for your health. If you think something is wrong:
- Ask questions. If you don’t understand something your doctor is saying, don’t be afraid to say so. Ask for clarification whenever necessary. This is your well-being you’re talking about, and you have the right to know what’s happening.
- Provide more information. Make sure your provider knows everything about your medical history, current symptoms, and other comorbid conditions. Never assume that anything is unrelated or unimportant.
- Seek a second opinion. If you feel uneasy or still have unanswered questions, ask for a referral to a specialist or talk to another doctor for a second opinion. Maybe your provider isn’t listening to you, or maybe you feel that something else is going on: Remember to trust your instincts and talk to someone else for corroboration or answers.
Talk to a Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you believe that you have been the victim of a misdiagnosis, one of the first things you should do – after seeking additional medical advice – is to talk to a medical malpractice attorney. Healthcare providers have a duty to provide reasonable care and foresee an injury or illness that is within their scope of practice. If they fail to do so and you suffer harm or experience a worse health outcome as a result, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
The best way to see if you have legal grounds for a claim is to schedule a free initial consultation with a personal injury attorney. Fort Lauderdale Injury lawyers at Kelley/Uustal have in-depth knowledge of medical malpractice law, and we have won millions of dollars in settlements and judgments for our clients. Contact us to schedule a free and confidential review of your legal options with our firm.
Type of Diagnoses Errors:
- Infections that go unnoticed and then worsen (sometimes resulting in sepsis)
- Failure to detect a tumor, which eventually injures other parts of the body
- Laboratory results that are misread, ignored, or overlooked by a doctor
- X-rays or CT scans that are abnormal, but remain overlooked
Can You Sue a Medical Professional for Delayed Diagnosis?
In many cases, the sooner a medical problem is treated, the better the prognosis for recovery and the less likelihood of harm resulting from the illness. In these cases, a diagnosis that is delayed can result in serious harm to the patient. Delayed diagnosis is a form of medical malpractice and if you have suffered due to a delayed diagnosis, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injury.
In order to establish that medical malpractice has occurred, the following must be proven:
- The patient was under the care of the doctor at the time of the delayed diagnosis.
- The doctor was negligent by missing a diagnosis that another physician would have made.
- The negligence of the doctor resulted in actual injury to the patient.
Negligence here means that the doctor did not provide the proper treatment, or did not provide treatment that should be expected from a medical professional. The patient must show that a doctor in a similar specialty would have made the correct diagnosis in the same circumstances. If the doctor did not add the proper diagnosis to the list of possibilities when they should have, or added the proper diagnosis but failed to perform the proper tests to investigate the possibility, medical malpractice may have occurred.
A doctor may fail to provide a timely diagnosis due to a faulty test result from a laboratory. In this case while the doctor was not guilty of malpractice, another person may be, including the technician who performed the tests. If this error can be shown to have been the result of negligence, then there may be a case for medical malpractice.
The final qualification is to demonstrate that the delayed diagnosis resulted in harm to the patient. This may be demonstrated by showing that the injury or illness progressed further than it would have if the proper diagnosis had been made during the doctor’s original exam. Expert medical testimony will help establish that making the diagnosis in a timely manner would have lessened harm to the patient, thus the patient suffered injury as a result of the delayed diagnosis. Because it is so complex and because it requires testimony from medical professionals, it is always necessary to have legal representation to pursue a medical malpractice suit for delayed diagnosis.
Know Your Basic Patient Rights
As a patient, you have rights and responsibilities under Florida law. Knowing your rights can help you identify medical malpractice and seek full compensation for your injuries in case of negligence. As a patient, the law entitles you to the following:
You Have a Right to Informed Consent
If you’ve received any type of medical care, you’ve likely heard the term “informed consent,” but may not be sure what it means. Simply, the principle of informed consent requires that healthcare providers give you all the information you need to make a decision regarding your medical care.
Let’s use surgery as an example. If you need a procedure like a caesarean section or a gall bladder removal, your surgeon must provide you with information regarding the risks and benefits of the surgery. Common risks of surgery include blood clots, excessive bleeding at the wound site, and post-operative infections. Generally, your provider only recommends surgery when the benefits outweigh the risks, but you have the right to know them – and make the decision to have the surgery yourself.
Informed consent applies to virtually every aspect of your medical care, from starting a new medication to major surgery. In an emergency, someone may be able to make decisions for you if you’re unable to make them yourself.
You Have the Right to Your Medical Records
Under federal law, you have the right to access your medical records when you request them. In the era of electronic health information, you also have the right to view the original documents, usually in your healthcare providers office. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) lays out these rights. Providers have the right to withhold certain records, like psychotherapy notes, under this law.
You Have the Right to Competent, Reasonable Care
As a patient, you have the right to experience competent care. It’s important to note that the law doesn’t entitle you to superior or even compassionate care. Some doctors are both superior in their field and compassionate. Others have bad bedside manner but are still competent doctors. As a patient, your right is to receive treatment in accordance with an established standard of care. If a doctor or other healthcare provider does not act in a way that another competent doctor of similar training would, this forms the foundation for medical malpractice.
You Have the Right to Privacy
Under HIPAA, no one can disclose your health information to others without your consent. The information you share with your provider is private and subject to doctor/patient privilege. Physicians and hospital groups who violate HIPAA may be subject to steep fines.
You Have the Right to Collect Damages.
Finally, you have the right to collect damages for any harm you suffered if your provider commits medical malpractice. Under Florida law, you may be able to collect damages to pay for your medical expenses, compensate for lost wages, and address the pain and suffering associated with your experience.
Many medical issues, like cancer, are completely treatable with proper diagnosis. If you believe a medical professional or hospital violated any of your patient rights or was negligent in your care, contact the attorneys at Kelley/Uustal to schedule a free review of your legal options at our firm.
How Our Fort Lauderdale Medical Malpractice Attorneys Have Helped Past Patients in Florida
Our Florida personal injury firm has significant experience with handling medical malpractice cases, including cases involving failure to diagnose an illness or disease. In a previous misdiagnosis lawsuit, we represented a woman who was told by doctors that she had aggressive breast cancer. After a biopsy, doctors told the woman she must have both breasts removed. After examining nearly 100 samples of tissue under a microscope, the doctors were unable to find any form of cancer in either of them. Following the surgery, doctors informed the woman they could not find cancer in her breasts; it must have been removed during the biopsy.
Distraught – the woman came to Kelley/Uustal thinking doctors had delayed her diagnosis. After reviewing her case and medical records, our injury attorneys determined she was the victim of a different type of medical negligence. After reviewing the original slides from the biopsy and comparing them with the woman’s DNA, we found that the hospital made a serious mistake: the lab had accidentally switched the slides. In short, our client was told she had cancer when she did not, and another patient received a clean bill of health although her lab results were positive.
The case was resolved for a confidential amount.
Contact Our Florida Misdiagnosis Lawyers
The results of a medical error in a diagnosis can be deadly, and sometimes they are not obvious if an experienced attorney doesn’t know what to look for. It is important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to investigate your case – one who has handled this type of case before. Our Fort Lauderdale attorneys at Kelley/Uustal are experienced in discovering medical errors and pursuing compensation for patients who suffer from error. Contact our Florida personal injury attorneys if you suspect that you have been the victim of a medical error in diagnosis. We offer a free case evaluation and you pay no fees until we win your case!