Robert A. Solomon, P.C.
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Is your misdiagnosis medical malpractice?

Doctors have a big job when it comes to taking care of your health. Most physicians do a good job diagnosing and treating their patients, but mistakes do happen.

  • Failure to diagnose happens when the doctor does not make a connection between your symptoms and a medical condition and thus does not begin treatment.
  • Misdiagnosis happens when your doctor believes you have one health problem, but it actually is something different.
  • Delayed diagnosis is when the doctor isn't quick enough to make a diagnosis for treatment.

Unfortunately, the end result in each of these cases is that you, the patient, don't get the proper medical care you need. In 2013, the National Center for Policy Analysis found that doctors misdiagnose at the rate of about 10 to 20 percent. Some go unreported or get fixed before there is a bigger problem, which does make it difficult to gather the data needed to determine how prevalent misdiagnosis is. The NCPA also reports that misdiagnosis is the leading cause of medical malpractice suits. However, not all misdiagnosis cases are malpractice.

What constitutes medical malpractice?

For a medical malpractice case, several things must be proven:

  • You must have had a doctor-patient relationship. In other words, the doctor owed you a legal duty of care.
  • The doctor made a mistake or breached that duty in providing care.
  • You suffered harm or injury because of that breach in care. Most likely, you developed a more serious medical condition.
  • The harm or injury you suffered was directly related to the doctor's mistake.

Medical malpractice cases are not cut and dry. The circumstances of each case are often very different. A misdiagnosis isn't necessarily a malpractice case, especially if you haven't suffered serious harm. You must be upfront and honest with your doctor about your health history and conditions. When a doctor doesn't know that you're having chest pains, it can't be diagnosed that you have a heart condition. Thus, if you have a heart attack, it might not be malpractice on the doctor's part.

Medical malpractice cases are complex. Often, there is a statute of limitation that requires you to file a claim in a timely manner. There are a number of factors that determine this time frame. In New Jersey, generally, the time limit for personal injury cases is two years. It's best to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about the facts of your case to determine the strength of your claim. Some law firms offer evaluations for your case when you call their office.

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