According to an article posted on Live Science, a study in 2014 showed that “At least one in 20 U.S. adults, or 12 million people yearly, may be misdiagnosed when they go to see their doctors […]”. An incorrect diagnosis would lead to an incorrect or delayed treatment, which can ultimately make the patient’s condition even worse than it originally was or even put their life on the line. Note that in some cases a mistake in diagnosis alone is not sufficient for a lawsuit, so it’s best to have a New York medical malpractice lawyer review the specific case.
When it comes to diagnostic errors, the doctors are not held legally responsible for all cases. One of the key questions in determining a medical malpractice is whether the doctor did or did not adhere to the professional standard of care—a type or degree of care that must be given by a competent practitioner. This means that under the same circumstances, a doctor should do what any reasonably skilled doctor would.
To prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff along with his or her legal counsel usually have to prove three things:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed.
- The doctor did not provide treatment in a manner that is skillful and competent.
- The patient suffered an injury directly due to the doctor’s negligence.
Most cases would lean heavily on the second or third condition. It’s important to note that even the most skilled doctors can make errors in diagnosing a patient, which is why the key in malpractice case is to determine if the physician acted competently or neglected his duty or responsibility.
For a doctor to be found liable for malpractice, the injury that was sustained should not have happened if the doctor did not breach professional care standards. It must also be proven that the misdiagnosis caused the patient’s condition to get worse than it was in the beginning. There are also cases, although rare, where doctors diagnose a patient with a condition that the patient doesn’t really have in the first place.
Take a cancer diagnosis as an example. A delayed diagnosis could lead to severe treatment regimens that wouldn’t have otherwise been necessary. On the other hand, sometimes even if the doctor misdiagnosed a patient, the end result for the plaintiff might have been the same (statistically speaking), especially in cancer types with a high fatality rate.
Cases of misdiagnosis can get complicated. Therefore, it’s best to consult and work with a lawyer with experience on medical malpractice in NYC such as those from The Law Offices of Joseph Lichtenstein.
12 Million Misdiagnoses Occur Yearly in US, Study Finds, Live Science, April 16, 2014
Medical Malpractice: Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis, NOLO