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What Should You Do if You've Been Misdiagnosed in DC?

When you experience health issues, you’re on a timeline. You experience symptoms, go to the doctor, explain the symptoms, and then the doctor provides a medical diagnosis and treatment plan. You follow the doctor’s orders and resolve the illness.

When a medical misdiagnosis occurs, that timeline of healing is interrupted. And that can lead to severe physical, financial, and even fatal consequences.

If you have been misdiagnosed and are considering taking legal action, speak our Washington, DC medical malpractice attorneys as soon as possible to learn your options.

 

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What Qualifies as Misdiagnosis?

medical professional removing glovesA medical misdiagnosis happens when a doctor or healthcare professional incorrectly identifies a patient’s condition. In the United States, 12 million people are affected by misdiagnoses each year. Up to 80,000 people die every year from complications arising from a misdiagnosis.

Misdiagnoses can happen in any medical setting, including almost any medical condition. However, the ‘Big 3” misdiagnosis errors are vascular events, cancer diagnoses, and infections. Other commonly misdiagnosed illnesses include strokes and autoimmune diseases.

If a misdiagnosis by a negligent medical provider leaves you with new or prolonged medical complications, you have the right to compensation. The medical malpractice lawyers at Regan Zambri Long have secured millions for our clients, making sure their financial future isn’t on the line because of a doctor’s error. During a free consultation, you will speak with a compassionate medical malpractice attorney. Our dedicated team will evaluate your case and present you with all your legal options. Call today to get the claim for damages started.

What Do I Do After a Misdiagnosis?

You likely have hundreds of questions and a long “to-do” list following a medical misdiagnosis. It’s overwhelming.

Below is an ordered checklist of the steps you should take if you were the victim of a medical misdiagnosis. These steps will ensure your health and safety and will also protect your legal rights:

  • First, get a second opinion. Seek medical treatment from another provider, especially if your condition worsens or you’re uncomfortable with the initial diagnosis. A second opinion can help clarify whether a misdiagnosis has occurred and the best treatment options for your situation. 
  • Next, be sure to keep all your medical records. This includes detailed records of appointments, test results, prescribed treatments, and all communication with the medical professionals.
  • Follow up with your current doctor. Sometimes, there are genuine misunderstandings and mistakes in medicine. Speak to your current physician and express your concerns about the diagnosis you received. Open communication can sometimes resolve the issue at hand.
  • Contact an attorney with experience in misdiagnosis claims. If a misdiagnosis seriously harmed you, consult an accomplished misdiagnosis lawyer at Regan Zambri Long to help move your case forward.
  • Next, file a personal injury lawsuit. Each state sets different time limits on filing medical malpractice claims. In Maryland and Washington, DC, the injured party has three years from the date of the injury to file a claim against negligent healthcare providers. In Virginia, the injured victim only has two years to file a claim. When you work with a medical malpractice lawyer, your attorney will pay close attention to the deadlines, making sure your claim is filed correctly and on time.
  • Contact the Department of Health. If you believe the doctor’s actions violated professional standards, you may file a complaint with your state’s Department of Health.
  • Enter into settlement negotiations with the insurance company. Once your medical malpractice insurance claim is filed, your medical malpractice lawyer will conduct an independent investigation, gathering evidence to build a compelling argument in your favor. He will then negotiate with the insurance company of the at-fault party.
  • Finally, follow your new treatment plan: If you receive a correct diagnosis, carefully follow the new healthcare provider’s instructions and treatment plan.

How to Prove Medical Negligence

misdiagnosis lawyersTo prove medical malpractice, you’ll need to understand what medical negligence is and is not. Negligence is the failure to take proper care in doing something.
Sometimes, even with a good doctor, an incorrect diagnosis can happen. The practice of medicine is wildly complicated, and as good as doctors are at their jobs, they are still just human.

Symptoms can overlap across different conditions. Tests may not always be definitive, and communication can sometimes break down. If  the doctor followed a reasonable course of action (taking your medical history into account, conducting appropriate testing, evaluating your symptoms, etc.), an incorrect diagnosis may not be enough for a medical negligence claim.

When a doctor is medically negligent, their treatment falls below the standard of care (more on that below). Some signs that you received a misdiagnosis because of medical negligence are:

  • Ignored symptoms
  • Failure to order necessary or additional testing
  • Failure to consider medical history
  • Failure to keep up with current medical practices

When you file your medical malpractice claim, your lawyer will need to establish the key components of negligence to recover compensation for your illness or injuries:

Breach of Duty

This element focuses on the doctor’s actions and whether they deviated from the expected standard of care. The standard of care is what a physician with similar training and experience would typically do in the same situation.

Your experienced attorney will note what your doctor did to diagnose you. Then, they will consult with other medical professionals to determine the course of action they would take in a similar scenario. If your doctor’s actions were very different from those of every other medical provider consulted, it would indicate that your physician engaged in malpractice.

To prove a breach of duty, your lawyer will investigate your medical records and work with expert witnesses.

Causation

The next component of negligence is causation, which proves that the doctor’s misdiagnosis was the direct cause of your injury or illness.
Your lawyer must connect the misdiagnosis and the injuries suffered. For example, if the doctor misdiagnosed ovarian cancer, the error could lead to a more advanced stage of cancer that requires more aggressive treatment.

Expert witnesses will play a huge role in determining causation in your case. They will explain how the misdiagnosis likely impacted your health and the treatment you received.

Damages

Finally, the last element of negligence is damages. Damages are the financial and emotional losses you incurred because of the medically negligent misdiagnosis.
You can recover three types of damages from a misdiagnosis lawsuit: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

  • Economic damages are monetary losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity.
  • Non-economic damages refer to more subjective losses like pain and suffering and emotional distress.
  • Punitive damages are additional damages on top of the compensatory damages. When a doctor is willfully and wantonly negligent, the judge or jury may order punitive damages to deter the medical professional from behaving that way in the future.

Your lawyer will prove damages with physical receipts of medical bills and old pay stubs. To prove non-economic damages, your lawyer will gather witness statements and testimony from therapists to establish the impact the misdiagnosis had on your life.

Can You Sue a Doctor for the Wrong Diagnosis?

Yes, if the doctor’s mistake falls under medical malpractice, you can sue the doctor for a misdiagnosis in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice and misdiagnoses don’t just happen in one line of medicine. Medical providers that are subject to civil lawsuits for medical malpractice include:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Physician Assistants
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Radiologists
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Urgent care centers
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Emergency room staff
  • Pharmacists
  • And other practitioners like dentists, chiropractors, etc.

How do you prove a misdiagnosis?

As you enter the claims process, it’s important to understand that you, the injured party, bear the burden of proof (the responsibility to show that something is true). This is why having an expert medical malpractice lawyer is so important.

The laws surrounding medical malpractice are complicated and specific. A medical malpractice lawyer with years of experience in this field will use their knowledge of local laws and the court system to build a strong case in your favor.

To prove your case, a medical malpractice attorney will:

  • Obtain copies of all your medical records related to the misdiagnosis. This includes doctor visits, test results, and any treatment you received for the wrong diagnosis.
  • Ask You to Keep a detailed record of your symptoms, including the date they started, their severity, and how they progressed. This helps establish a timeline and demonstrates the impact on your daily life.
  • Gather witness statements. If anyone witnessed your interactions with the doctor or can attest to the effects of the misdiagnosis on your well-being, their statements can be valuable.
  • Consult with another doctor to confirm the correct diagnosis and document the effects of the misdiagnosis.
  • You will need to keep copies of all medical bills, prescriptions, and other expenses incurred due to the misdiagnosis. This helps document your economic damages.

What should you do if misdiagnosed in DC?Types of Diagnostic Errors

In medical malpractice claims, there are different types of diagnostic errors a negligent medical professional can make. During your free consultation with an accomplished attorney at Regan Zambri Long, we will review your case and discuss which type of error best applies to your situation.

Doctor Makes the Wrong Diagnosis

An incorrect diagnosis occurs when a healthcare provider gives the patient a diagnosis different from their medical condition. For example, a patient who is experiencing chest tightness is told by a doctor that they’re having a panic attack when the chest tightness is a symptom of a heart attack. The patient has received an incorrect diagnosis.

Doctor Fails to Diagnose a Condition

A lack of diagnosis can also characterize misdiagnosis. This is when the doctor fails to diagnose the underlying condition altogether. When a medical professional fails to diagnose a condition, the patient will not receive the treatment they need to get well or prevent the condition from worsening.

Doctor Makes a Delayed (Late) Diagnosis

Delayed diagnosis occurs when a healthcare provider does not give the correct diagnosis quickly enough. For example, a young athlete experiences sudden and severe abdominal pain. He goes to the emergency room, where the doctor performs a basic physical exam but fails to order additional imaging scans like an ultrasound or CT scan. The doctor diagnoses the patient with a muscle strain, prescribes rest, and sends him home.

The patient’s condition worsens over the next few days, and he returns to the emergency room. A different doctor examines him and orders an ultrasound, which confirms a ruptured appendix. The patient had surgery, which was successful. However, the delayed diagnosis of appendicitis caused complications, and the young patient now requires additional surgery and a longer recovery time.

Diagnostic Errors in Women

An alarming fact is that women are 30% more likely to be misdiagnosed than men. This disparity is often due to the failure of medical professionals to fully consider a woman’s self-reported symptoms.

The term “medical gaslighting” is used to describe this phenomenon and highlight how women’s concerns are dismissed and downplayed in the medical community. For example, endometriosis is a painful condition that causes inflammation, pain, scar tissue, and even infertility in women. However, it takes between 6 and 10 years after the first symptoms of endometriosis appear for a woman to be correctly diagnosed.

See Legal Counsel if You or a Loved One Has Been Misdiagnosed

If a medically negligent misdiagnosis caused you harm and financial hardship, call the Regan Zambri Long medical malpractice attorneys today. We will seek fair compensation for your losses and protect your rights. Call today to discuss your case and get started on your legal claim.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Have you or your loved one sustained injuries in Washington DC, Maryland or Virginia? Regan Zambri Long PLLC has the best lawyers in the country to analyze your case and answer the questions you may have.

Call 202-960-4596

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