Medical Negligence: What Is Misdiagnosis?

Symptoms are the signs many doctors use (along with testing) to diagnose a patient with an injury or condition. However, what happens when symptoms of one condition are similar or identical to those of another serious disease or injury?

Unfortunately, this is a problem that often causes serious confusion and may lead to misdiagnosis and an individual sustaining long-term damages as a result. Understanding what misdiagnosis is, how it is harmful, and what you could do in response to a misdiagnosis are important. 

What Is Considered a Misdiagnosis?

A misdiagnosis is when a medical professional offers a diagnosis based on the symptoms they know about and the tests they performed, but the diagnosis ends up being incorrect, and the condition is actually something else. For instance, if a doctor diagnoses a patient with pneumonia but the patient actually has tuberculosis, this is a misdiagnosis.

A misdiagnosis can also be when a medical professional misses a diagnosis. This is when the medical professional informs the patient that they are fine, but there actually is something wrong with them medically.

Also, an issue could be considered a misdiagnosis or another kind of diagnostic mistake when:

  • There is a delay in a diagnosis: The medical professional makes an accurate diagnosis, but after a significant delay
  • There is a failure to diagnose a related condition: The medical professional fails to diagnose a disease related to one the professional did diagnose
  • There is a failure to recognize complications: The medical professional makes a correct diagnosis, but doesn’t recognize complications of the condition

How Harmful Can a Misdiagnosis Be?

A major misdiagnosis, like failing to diagnose a patient with cancer, can be devastating for the patient. Cancer and some other serious conditions must be treated early so the patient will have the best possible prognosis. If such conditions aren’t treated early, they can progress and become incurable or even deadly.

Even if a misdiagnosis seems like a minor mistake, it can have major consequences for the patient. The patient may be prescribed a drug they shouldn’t take, and that can lead to serious side effects.

From a medical perspective, a misdiagnosis is very serious, and it’s just as serious from the legal perspective. A misdiagnosis is medical malpractice involving negligence. If you believe you’re a victim of medical malpractice, a judge and a jury may agree and award you compensation.

What Legal Options Are There After a Misdiagnosis?

Typically, legal actions (claims and lawsuits) are for those who have suffered some form of loss or damages as a result of a misdiagnosis. For instance, if your actual condition is worse than the condition you were diagnosed with and you have major medical expenses or have lost income, there may be potential for legal recourse.

Depending on your case, you could file a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit. One may be a better option for you over the other, and a lawyer from our firm can help you decide between the two. However, if you lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, you and your lawyer may decide to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit instead.

Damages You Could Claim

In a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit, you can claim damages for yourself and your family. These damages can help you cover financial costs and compensate you for non-financial costs, like the cost to your health. You could claim:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost income for your family due to being unable to work
  • Medical bills
  • Related damages

In a wrongful death claim or suit, you could also claim damages for yourself and your family and on behalf of your loved one. You could claim:

  • Your emotional anguish
  • Your children’s loss of support and guidance
  • Your loved one’s medical bills prior to death

Meeting the Deadline for Your Case

In Maryland, there are deadlines for filing lawsuits, like a medical malpractice lawsuit. With this particular lawsuit, the filing deadline is the earlier of either five years from the date of an incident or three years from the date of a discovery of medical malpractice, per Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-109. With a wrongful death suit, the filing deadline is only three years from the date of a loved one’s death, according to Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-904.

To meet the deadline for your case, consider hiring an attorney from our firm soon. By hiring your attorney soon, you’ll give them more time to work on and build up your case.

Contact Us to Learn More

At Brown & Barron, we help you understand your rights, including your right to file legal action against the negligent party. You deserve to know what options are available to you in order to protect your rights moving forward.

With one of our medical malpractice lawyers on your side, you’ll be able to feel peace of mind knowing you have an experienced professional advocating for your rights. We go the extra mile to help you seek the outcome you deserve. To learn more about misdiagnoses and our attorneys, and to receive a free consultation with our team, contact our firm today.

Doctor talking to a patient
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