Can You Sue For Failure To Diagnose? August 21, 2023.

suing for failure to diagnose

At some point, everyone has put their trust in medical professionals. When you face a health issue, you expect your doctor to get to the bottom of what is happening. 

While some medical conditions can be tricky to uncover, you rely on your doctor to use all methods, tools, and procedures at their disposal to figure out what's wrong. If your provider fails to find an answer, it can be devastating. 

In some cases, it goes beyond a mistake. If you or a loved one has experienced a failure to diagnose a situation that led to further health complications, you may have the right to seek compensation in a misdiagnosis lawsuit. Contact Mellino Law to discuss your case. 

What Is Considered a Diagnostic Error?

The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine defines a diagnostic error as occurring when a medical professional fails to find a diagnosis or doesn't communicate findings to a patient in a reasonable time. A reasonable time would depend on medical standards. For example, finding a diagnosis for a rare disease would take much longer than diagnosing the common cold. 

An error in timely diagnosis may include three different situations:

  • Delayed Diagnosis: A delay in diagnosis means the doctor should have known the cause of a patient's health issues long before they made a diagnosis. 
  • Incorrect Diagnosis: A misdiagnosis happens when a doctor says a patient has one medical condition but they actually have a different one. 
  • Missed Diagnosis: In this situation, the doctor never comes up with the correct diagnosis for the patient's health condition. 

Common Medical Conditions Medical Professionals Fail To Diagnose

Some medical conditions have a higher chance of diagnostic errors than others. According to a study from the JAMA Network, Healthcare providers most often make diagnosis mistakes when it comes to certain types of cancer, including colorectal, lung, breast, prostate, and bladder. Due to time being a very important aspect of surviving this disease, a failure to diagnose cancer can be catastrophic for the patient. 

Other medical conditions that often suffer from misdiagnosis issues include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Sepsis
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Brain hemorrhage

Failure to diagnose malpractice often happens because a medical professional overlooked symptoms or signs. In some cases, it might be due to miscommunication of symptoms between the patient and the doctor. It can also happen because of mistakes made in the medical records. Additional causes include the ordering of incorrect tests, misreading test results, and general medical errors related to the doctor improperly assessing the condition. 

Can You Pursue a Failure To Diagnose Lawsuit?

If you feel your doctor or another medical professional had a hand in failing to diagnose your medical condition, you may have a good basis for a misdiagnosis claim. Whether you received the wrong diagnosis or never got a diagnosis, if you suffered due to the inadequate care of a healthcare provider, you can look into your potential ability to sue. 

Keep in mind that Ohio law does set a time limit, or statute of limitations, on making such a claim. You have one year from the time the misdiagnosis occurred to file a lawsuit. 

How To Know if You Have a Strong Medical Malpractice Claim

Can you sue a doctor for failure to diagnose? You can, but proving malpractice requires meeting very specific legal requirements. These requirements can be broken into three parts:

  1. Duty of Care: You must show that the healthcare professional had a duty of care towards you. Basically, this means there was a professional relationship between you as a doctor and a patient. 
  2. Breach of Duty: You must show that the doctor committed a breach of duty, meaning they took some action that was against the standard of care. If an average doctor would have been in this provider's shoes, you must show that they would have taken different steps. This helps you prove that the doctor went against accepted medical standards and committed medical negligence. 
  3. Harm Suffered: Finally, you need to prove that you suffered harm because of the actions of the medical provider. In addition, the damage or loss must be something that you would not otherwise have had without the doctor's breach of care. 

If you can meet these requirements, then you are to the point where you should consider speaking to a lawyer about filing your case

You may wonder if you can only bring a lawsuit against a doctor. Can you sue a hospital for misdiagnosis? The answer is yes. You can sue a single provider or a facility. Who you bring your lawsuit against depends on the evidence you have as to who is at fault.  

Average Settlement Amounts for Diagnosis-Related Claims

If your doctor failed to diagnose your medical condition or gave you an inaccurate diagnosis, you can bring a claim for malpractice. Medical malpractice claims fall under the umbrella of personal injury. They are a civil lawsuit, and most will settle out of court because of the difficulty of going to trial. 

Determining the average failure to diagnose lawsuit settlement is not easy because various factors impact the amount you may receive, including:

  • Severity of injuries
  • Amount of damages
  • Impact on life moving forward
  • Certainty of liability
  • Cost of the litigation
  • Area of medicine

Each of these points can greatly impact the amount you can receive for a failure to diagnose, making it nearly impossible to give an idea of what an average could be.

In addition, Ohio places limits or caps on award amounts. There are no limits for economic damages because these are your actual costs and expenses related to the incident. But, there are limits on noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. The maximum amount you can receive for noneconomic damages is $250,000 or three times the economic loss up to $350,000 (whichever is greater) per plaintiff. If multiple people are suing, the per occurrence total for all is $500,000. 

In some situations, the maximum increases to $500,000 per plaintiff and $1 million per occurrence. These cases include situations where malpractice led to the loss of a limb or use of a body system or caused permanent physical function injuries that prevent the person from performing life-sustaining activities.

Explore Your Legal Options With a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you feel you have a case against a doctor for not properly diagnosing your medical condition, then you should speak with our medical malpractice attorneys. We can review your case with you and discuss the misdiagnosis compensation you may be able to receive. Contact us today to see how we can help.