Diagnosis is the first and most important step towards recovery. However, at times, the illness is misdiagnosed, diagnosed when it’s too late, or never diagnosed at all. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can prove to be extremely dangerous and may lead to severe injuries or even death. A small illness may manifest into something much bigger and life threatening, if not diagnosed correctly.
We trust our doctors with every minor and major illness, yet negligence may cause them to take incorrect decisions, leading to catastrophic results. Under Florida law, if you or someone you know was harmed due to negligence in a case of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis by a doctor or other medical professional, you have a claim against the concerned medical provider and can sue for damages.
How Can You Prove Misdiagnosis in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
According to Florida law, you cannot sue a medical provider solely on the basis of a diagnostic error. It is possible for skillful and experienced doctors to make honest mistakes, too. This does not mean that the care offered to you was inadequate. The doctor may have done everything that he or she could to diagnose and treat your illness, but failed despite their best efforts.
It is unreasonable for every diagnostic error to be taken to court, especially if it was not the result of negligence. Thus, to prove medical malpractice, you must prove that the diagnostic error occurred due to the medical provider’s negligence, and that the care offered to you was below the general standard of medical care. The general standard of medical care is a legal obligation that medical professionals owe to their patients, and any deviation from this can be considered as medical malpractice.
You will also need to prove that the diagnostic error caused some harm to you. In some cases, misdiagnosis may not cause any serious injury to the person. However, sometimes, the harm caused can be as severe as death. For example, if due to negligence, a doctor fails to diagnose cancer on time, it may reach the next stage, which may be even more difficult to treat, or may be untreatable. In such cases, a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed.
Further, to prove medical malpractice, the opinion of another expert medical professional may be required. If other doctors could have diagnosed the same illness, under the same circumstances, by using the correct diagnostic techniques, but your doctor failed to do so, due to negligence, then your doctor can be held liable for the damage caused in a medical malpractice claim.
Establishing Whether or Not Negligence Played a Role in Your Case
How can you determine whether or not your medical provider was negligent? One way of knowing that your doctor acted competently is by assessing the methods that he or she used to arrive at a diagnosis. Apart from asking the patient detailed questions about their illness and studying their medical history, a process known as “differential diagnosis” is generally used by doctors to arrive at a diagnostic conclusion. This process involves making a list of possible diagnoses and running tests for each one of them, thus eliminating them, one by one, and finally reaching a diagnosis that fits.
If the doctor failed to do some tests that later prove to have been essential, then the doctor was negligent. For example, if a blood test could have revealed some important information about your illness, but the doctor decides that the blood test is unnecessary and goes on to diagnose your illness incorrectly, then the doctor did not act with reasonable care.
Thus, if your doctor did not attempt to reach an in depth understanding of your illness by applying the correct methods to reach a diagnosis, then it can be considered medical malpractice due to negligence.
At times, your doctor might rely on inaccurate tests from pathology labs or radiology labs and diagnose the illness based on those tests. The inaccuracy of the tests could have arisen from faulty lab equipment or errors made by the lab staff. In such cases, the doctor is not at fault, since he or she followed the correct procedure for diagnosis. Although the doctor is not liable for the damage caused to you in this kind of case, someone else is. It might be the lab, the lab technician, or the staff who was responsible for the error. You may have a claim against another party, in such cases, though this too must be proven as an act of negligence in order for your claim to be successful.
Seeking Legal Guidance in a Florida Medical Malpractice Claim
Errors in diagnosis can not only prove harmful, but often result in fatal consequences for the patient. Every medical provider has a legal obligation to their patients to act according to the general standard of medical care. If there is any deviation from this general standard of care that results in some kind of harm to the patient, then the medical provider can be held liable.
Thus, If you or a loved one were harmed due to a medical provider’s negligence and failure to diagnose the illness correctly, then the concerned medical provider can be sued for medical malpractice. However, a lawsuit for medical malpractice can be very complex and difficult to prove. You will certainly benefit from legal assistance to understand all aspects of the case. The medical provider is also likely to have their own legal representation, in the form of attorneys who will do all they can to prove that no medical malpractice actually occurred. Without your own attorney, the claim could easily be lost.
As far as the statute of limitations for Florida medical malpractice claims, you only have two years from the date on which you discovered or should have discovered that you were a victim of malpractice. Beyond this, you cannot file a case at all if more than four years from the date of the malpractice has passed, except in cases of fraud or concealment. This is why it is so important to contact an attorney as soon as you suspect that you were diagnosed incorrectly due to negligence.
The skilled Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Madalon Law are here for you, and we are happy to provide a free consultation to help you better understand the process and the circumstances of your own claim.