When the Doctor Gets it Wrong: Misdiagnosis and Medical Malpractice

Medical Misdiagnosis

Doctors are human and mistakes can happen. There are times when these mistakes, despite being perhaps detrimental to the patient, would not result in a successful medical malpractice case. However, the malpractice of a doctor and/or hospital can be brought to the courts, so the patient can receive compensation, when the doctor or hospital has been negligent.  An interesting area in medical malpractice law is when there is a lack of diagnosis, an incorrect diagnosis or a failure to relay a diagnosis. If these issues are as a result of a doctor’s negligent behavior, a medical practice claim may be brought against them.

gavel and stethoscopeA leading case on this area of medical malpractice and doctor negligence is that of Lawson v. Laferrière, where a woman had a biopsy in 1971, which revealed she had cancer. She was never told this and it was not until 1975 that she realized she had cancer. The court found that this failure to diagnose the patient did not ultimately cause her death in 1978, but they still awarded damages to the Plaintiff side for the psychological stress she must have felt by wondering what would have happened if she had been diagnosed in 1971  ̶̶  the “what if” type of questions. Even with an absence of trauma, a patient can still recover damages in a medical malpractice case for misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis if mental distress exists (Anderson v. Wilson).

An American case that was recently in the California courts also delved into the topic of doctors’ and hospitals’ negligence and medical malpractice claims for problems surrounding the diagnoses of a patient. In this case, Myrick v. Hansa, a young man of 19 years old was brought to the hospital after being unable to sit or speak at work. There was a possible stroke diagnosis, but despite this more examinations were not completed and a doctor did not even see the young man until the following morning. It was not until the next day, when his condition deteriorated, that he was diagnosed as having an ischemic stroke resulting in significant brain damage. The hospital, emergency room physician were diagnosed for failing to diagnose and thus treat his impending stroke. After some settlements, the medical malpractice case against one of the defendants went to trial and the jury awarded 36.61 million to the young man.

 It is not just a wrong cut in a surgery or a bad cast-job that can result in doctor’s negligence. Misdiagnosis, as seen above, can also bear with it extremely detrimental consequences. Even if a condition did not worsen because of a misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis, one may still be able to recover compensation from the doctor or hospital in a medical malpractice claim.

If you or a loved one has sustained personal injury due to the actions of a hospital or doctor, do not hesitate to contact us about your legal rights.

 

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