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What Is a Misdiagnosis?

Misdiagnosis occurs when a healthcare provider inaccurately identifies a medical condition or incorrectly interprets symptoms, leading to an incorrect diagnosis.

This can involve diagnosing a different condition, failing to recognize an existing one, or attributing symptoms to the wrong cause. Shockingly, approximately 795,000 people in the U.S. are injured or killed due to misdiagnosis each year, according to a study on error rates with specific diseases published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety

Causes of Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis can arise from various factors, often stemming from errors or negligence in the healthcare provider’s actions, such as the following:  

Inadequate Patient Assessment

Rushed or incomplete physical examinations may lead to a failure to identify crucial symptoms or signs indicative of a specific condition.

Misinterpretation of Diagnostic Tests

Errors in interpreting diagnostic tests, such as misreading X-rays, CT scans, or laboratory results.

Failure to Consider the Patient’s Medical History

Neglecting to gather a comprehensive and accurate medical history may result in overlooking crucial information relevant to the diagnosis.

Diagnostic Bias

Preconceived notions or biases on the part of healthcare providers can influence the diagnostic process, leading to a focus on certain conditions and potentially overlooking others.

Communication Breakdowns

Ineffective communication among healthcare providers, especially during care transitions.

Lack of Specialist Involvement

Failure to involve specialists when necessary.

Understaffing and Overworked Healthcare Providers

High workload and understaffing can contribute to fatigue and stress among healthcare providers, leading to lapses in judgment and decreased attention to detail.

Failure to Follow Established Protocols

Deviating from established diagnostic protocols or failing to adhere to recognized standards of care.

Systemic Issues in Healthcare Facilities

Issues within the healthcare system, such as inadequate training, lack of oversight, or flawed record-keeping systems.

Incomplete Follow-Up

Lack of thorough follow-up on the patient’s progress or reassessment of symptoms may contribute to a failure to correct a misdiagnosis over time.

How to Prove Misdiagnosis

Proving misdiagnosis requires critical evidence demonstrating that a healthcare provider deviated from the accepted standard of care, leading to harm or injury. Essential steps in proving misdiagnosis include obtaining and thoroughly analyzing medical records, diagnostic test results, and any other relevant documentation.

Expert testimony is often crucial, as a qualified medical professional can provide their opinion on whether the healthcare provider deviated from the appropriate standard of care. In order to file a misdiagnosis lawsuit in New York, you must first receive a Certificate of Merit from a qualified expert. They can help the court understand what a competent healthcare provider would have done in similar circumstances. 

Additionally, a comparison of the correct diagnosis and treatment with the actual actions taken by the healthcare provider strengthens the case. It’s also imperative to document the consequences of the misdiagnosis, such as additional medical treatments, pain and suffering, and any long-term impacts on your health. 

Misdiagnosis Claims

If you have suffered due to a misdiagnosis, you have the right to file a medical malpractice claim against the healthcare provider responsible. Filing this type of claim in New York involves a series of steps:

  • Hire an Attorney: The first step is to consult and hire an experienced Westchester county medical malpractice lawyer
  • Determination of Validity: Your attorney will evaluate the key elements of your case, investigate, and gather evidence to establish that there was a doctor-patient relationship, the healthcare provider was negligent, the negligence led to harm, and the harm resulted in losses (e.g., medical bills, lost income, etc.). 
  • Negotiations with Insurers: Once you have recovered or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), your attorney will send a demand letter to the healthcare provider’s insurer to begin negotiations. 
  • Obtaining a Certificate of Merit: An expert’s opinion is required to obtain a certificate of merit that supports filing a misdiagnosis lawsuit. Your attorney will consult a medical expert for confirmation that the healthcare provider’s actions deviated from the appropriate standard of care.
  • Filing a Lawsuit: If a resolution is not reached through negotiations, your attorney will file a lawsuit in the appropriate court. 
  • Negotiation or Trial: Many medical malpractice cases are resolved through settlement negotiations. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to trial, where a judge or jury will decide the outcome.

If your claim is successful, you may recover compensation for your current medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.