You are reading a sub-page describing malpractice when a doctor misdiagnoses or fails to diagnose a patient’s condition. Return to this website’s main medical malpractice lawyers page.

One quarter of all medical malpractice lawsuits allege that a doctor or a nurse failed to diagnosis the patient’s condition correctly. Unfortunately, studies of medical negligence have found that the rate of misdiagnosis has not decreased over time. The most common types of misdiagnosis cases involve the failure to diagnose cancer or the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

In a delayed diagnosis case, a plaintiff alleges that a hospital, doctor or nurse was negligent when they failed to recognize that the patient had a serious medical condition, most commonly cancer. Colorectal, breast and prostate cancer are so common, and tragically so frequently undiagnosed, that health insurance and malpractice insurance companies have put together screening and treatment management algorithms for physicians to follow when treating at-risk patients. For other cancers, such as cervical, lung and skin cancer, often a simple blood test would have revealed anemia or increased white blood cells, or testing of the urine or stool (such as guaiac test) would have revealed the presence of blood, both of which can indicate the presence of pre-cancerous cells or cancerous tumors which can then be examined in a biopsy to determine if the growth is benign or malignant. Read more about undiagnosed colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer malpractice lawsuits.

Misdiagnosis involves a doctor or nurse examining the patient but coming to the wrong conclusion about the patient’s condition.  A common example of misdiagnosis involves a person presenting to an emergency room with signs and symptoms of a heart attack, like chest pain radiating out to the arm or neck, difficulty breathing, and excessive sweating.  Emergency physicians are trained to prioritize patients with these symptoms and place them higher in the triage order, but many times the emergency department is understaffed or is experiencing an unusually high volume and so the physicians are too quick to discount these symptoms as signs of a more benign problem.  In this day and age, there are a variety of blood tests and measurements that can be taken with devices (like an EKG) to assess whether a patient has suffered some degree of ischemia and so is at a risk of a severe myocardial infarction in the near future, and so no patient with severe chest pain should ever leave the ER without a full cardiac evaluation. Read more about heart attack and stroke misdiagnosis lawsuits.

Can I Sue My Doctor For Misdiagnosis?

The laws of each state are different. In general, you can sue your doctor for misdiagnosis if three conditions are met:

  1. A qualified expert witness physician will testify your doctor was negligent, such as by missing the correct diagnosis.
  2. A qualified expert witness will provide a medical opinion that your doctor’s negligence caused you to suffer a worse injury than you would have had if you had been diagnosed correctly.
  3. You file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations.

Feel free to read some of my medical malpractice blog posts, including the following posts about misdiagnosis:

If you are a victim of medical negligence, use the below contact form or call us at 1-215-948-2718 for a free, confidential consultation. We represent clients across Pennsylvania, with a focus on our medical malpractice and hospital negligence cases on Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, and Lancaster counties.

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