Dedicated Attorneys Holding Doctors Accountable For Failure To Diagnose
For all of its progress, medical science is not perfect. With complex medical conditions, obtaining an accurate diagnosis can take time, testing and some educated guesswork. Unfortunately, doctors sometimes miss obvious and time-sensitive diagnoses like cancer and strokes because they aren’t as diligent as the standard of care requires. Failing to diagnose these conditions can and does lead to severe injury and preventable death.
If you or a loved one suffered serious harm due to a physician’s negligent misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, contact Shevlin Smith, P.C.. Our medical malpractice attorneys have more than 70 years of combined experience, and we are ready to help you fight for accountability and compensation from the at-fault provider.
Commonly Missed Conditions Cited In Malpractice Litigation
Many conditions could go undiagnosed with only mild consequences. But others must be recognized and treated as soon as possible, including:
- Cancer of all types
- Heart attacks
- Strokes and/or blood clots
- Serious infections
Whether the doctor fails to diagnose one of these conditions or misdiagnoses it as something else, the result is unaffordable delays in treatment and emergency interventions.
When Is Failure To Diagnose Considered To Be Malpractice?
Proving medical malpractice requires the plaintiff to demonstrate several things, including showing that the physician violated the expected standard of care. A doctor may be liable for failure to diagnose if they:
- Failed to order or conduct critical diagnostic tests or scans
- Ordered the wrong tests
- Failed to interview the patient thoroughly or to ask the types of questions that would have led to a diagnosis
- Incorrectly interpreted the results of lab tests or scans
- Performed only a cursory examination of the patient and missed obvious symptoms because of it
- Failed to refer a patient to a specialist, when needed
The standard of care is what a reasonable physician in the same field would have provided under the same circumstances. In order to prove that the defendant violated the expected standard of care, our attorneys often work with expert witnesses in the medical profession who can provide knowledgeable testimony.
Demonstrating Actual Injury Due To Physician Negligence
Medical malpractice claims also require plaintiffs to prove that the patient suffered injuries or death as the result of the physician’s failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis. You likely wouldn’t be taking legal action if you were uninjured, but it can be difficult to prove that the injuries were a direct result of what the physician did or failed to do. As your attorneys, we will work tirelessly to show how the diagnostic error led to injuries, a worsening of the condition or the death of a loved one.
Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Malpractice
Our malpractice attorneys work hard to demystify the legal processes surrounding medical malpractice. Here are some of the most common questions our clients have:
What legal actions can I take if I’ve been a victim of medical misdiagnosis?
A misdiagnosis, when it causes you additional harm by either delaying the treatment you need or exposing you to unnecessary, harmful treatments you do not need, is a type of medical malpractice. You have the right to pursue a medical malpractice claim against the doctor, nurse practitioner or other medical providers involved.
How do I prove that my misdiagnosis was due to medical negligence?
While the process can be complicated, your attorney will generally focus on demonstrating that another doctor with the same or similar credentials and in the same or similar setting would have handled the situation differently and made the correct diagnosis.
What makes cancer misdiagnosis different from other types of misdiagnoses or failures to diagnose?
Cancer is, quite often, a rapidly progressing disease. A patient’s best chance of overcoming cancer is when the disease is caught at the earliest stages. A misdiagnosis can, therefore, cause significant delays that cause the patient to lose their last clear chance for recovery. In essence, cancer offers no second chances when it comes to effective treatment, so delays can be fatal.
Can I sue for emotional distress resulting from a cancer misdiagnosis?
Absolutely. The emotional distress associated with a cancer misdiagnosis can be significant. The psychological damage of knowing that your condition was overlooked and what that may have cost you can be significant, and it should be factored into your claim for damages.
What is the statute of limitations in Virginia for filing a medical malpractice claim for a cancer misdiagnosis?
While there are some exceptions to the general rule, medical malpractice claims usually need to be brought within one year from the date the correct diagnosis was communicated to the patient. It is critical to seek legal guidance as soon as you believe malpractice or a misdiagnosis has occurred.
Tell Us Your Story During A Free Consultation
Based in Fairfax, Shevlin Smith, P.C., represents clients in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. To schedule your free initial consultation with our knowledgeable and experienced medical malpractice lawyers, you can reach out online or call 703-634-7350.