Steps to Take After a Misdiagnosis

A doctor gives a misdiagnosis to a patient sitting across from him at the table.

We put our lives in the hands of medical professionals, trusting them to recognize and treat diseases before it’s too late. Yet every year, millions of patients receive a misdiagnosis that prevents them from recovering: Asthma may be called bronchitis, heart conditions could be labeled indigestion and even Parkinson’s disease might be misdiagnosed as stress. A treatable condition could become terminal if not timely caught and properly managed — that’s why it’s important to know when you’ve been misdiagnosed and where you can turn for help.

What Qualifies As a Misdiagnosis?

A misdiagnosis is defined as a failure to identify or treat a disease during any stage of the diagnostic process, from initial consultation to follow-up appointments. Doctors can misdiagnose through commission (doing something wrong) or omission (failure to do the right thing). One common misconception is that a misdiagnosis always consists of the physician diagnosing one condition when it’s actually another. In fact, a missed or delayed diagnosis as well as the failure to recognize the complications of untreated disease may serve as grounds for legal action. 

 Doctors misdiagnose by: 

  1. Rushing through patients. Doctors try to fill every slot in their schedule with a patient. Often, they may rush through your visit to get to their next appointment and fail to recognize the signs of a more serious condition. 
  2. Failing to consult medical history. Your medical history gives your doctor a more complete picture of your health, including current medications and previous conditions. Your history may explain various symptoms and pain you’re experiencing, leading to a more accurate diagnosis.
  3. Misreading test or lab results. Doctors may make assumptions about a patient due to a handful of factors, including the patient’s age or weight. Proper attention must also be given to your test and lab results to properly diagnose a condition.  
  4. Failing to follow up. A treatment may not work if the diagnosis was wrong. Doctors are required to follow up with their patients to reevaluate their condition and confirm the treatment was effective.

Suing for Negligence

If you believe that you or a loved one received a misdiagnosis, Missouri allows a two-year statute of limitations, beginning on the date you discovered the diagnostic error. You must show four elements in your claim, including:

  1. Duty. You must show that you were under the care of the doctor whom you claim erred.
  2. Breach. You must prove that the doctor misdiagnosed you and that a proper diagnosis was eventually provided. 
  3. Causation. The harm you’ve experienced must be directly related to the misdiagnosis. For example, the failure to timely diagnose cancer caused or contributed to cause the death of your loved one. 
  4. Damages. The misdiagnosis must have caused you to experience some harm, such as the loss of your family member, disability, restrictions on your ability to move about or care for yourself, the need for certain care or equipment, limitations on your ability to work, or additional medical treatment and bills. 

If you fit the above conditions, we advise that you consult a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible

What Next? 

Before you file a claim, we recommend that you first seek medical attention for your condition — prioritize your health above all else. When you feel ready to start a medical malpractice case, please contact our medical malpractice attorneys at Casey Devoti & Brockland as soon as possible. Our attorneys are well-equipped to help you investigate and prosecute your case so that you can make a full recovery with the compensation you deserve. 

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Medical Malpractice
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