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Proving Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose in a Medical Malpractice Case

What You Must Show to Recover Damages

Proving Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose in a Medical Malpractice CaseWhen you seek medical treatment for an injury or illness, you expect medical professionals to make reasonable efforts to determine the cause of your condition so you can take the right steps toward physical recovery. Unfortunately, there are many misdiagnoses every year. A 2017 study found as many as 12 million Americans received incorrect or incomplete diagnoses the previous year.

Due to the difficulties associated with diagnostic medicine, it can be challenging to determine the precise causes and nature of an illness. As a consequence, a mistake in diagnosis alone typically does not provide sufficient basis for legal action to recover damages. Instead, you must show that the doctor’s actions failed to meet the standard of care expected within the profession.

In other claims involving negligence, such as slip-and-falls and motor vehicle accidents, the standard of care is what an average person of ordinary prudence would do. In a medical malpractice claim, however, the standard of care is higher. A judge and/or jury must look at the actions taken by the medical professional and determine whether they meet the following criteria:

  • The care expected of a reasonably competent medical professional,
  • With similar training and experience,
  • Practicing in the same geographic area.

Negligence and Diagnostic Errors

In general, when attempting to diagnose an illness or injury, medical professionals use the differential diagnosis process, which involves compiling a prioritized list of suspected conditions based on symptoms. To demonstrate negligence in the diagnosis of an illness or injury, a claimant customarily must show the following:

  • The doctor was negligent in failing to include the actual condition on the differential diagnosis list; and
  • The doctor considered the actual condition but failed to administer appropriate tests or properly evaluate test results, resulting in the misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose.

Contact Howard D. Popper, P.C.

For a free initial consultation to discuss any personal injury claim, contact our office online or call 973-993-8787 to set up an appointment. We have offices in Morristown and Newton but also can meet with you in your home or the hospital.

We handle all medical malpractice claims on a contingency basis. You won’t pay anyattorney fees unless we recover damages for your losses.