Doctors occasionally make mistakes. They are human, like everyone else. Failure to notice a single detail in a patient’s blood results could lead to a misdiagnosis. However, that in itself does not constitute malpractice.
For the law to consider a mistake to be malpractice, the patient has to prove they sustained damage as a result. Determining whether something is a mistake depends on the standard of care typical in a given situation.
When a physician makes an inaccurate diagnosis or fails to diagnose an illness promptly, a patient’s condition can worsen. If the doctor fails to order tests, orders the wrong tests, or overlooks something in the test results, they may be liable for injuries a patient sustains.
Misdiagnosis alone does not prove negligence. Doctors may miss something, even after having met the appropriate standard of care. The key is whether the doctor was competent in their diagnosing methodology. Sometimes, a diagnosis is a matter of ruling out other possibilities, and that process may take some time to complete.
If a malpractice case results in an award to the patient, it might cover more than just the medical expenses. Compensation may also cover things such as:
- Physical therapy
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages and reduced earning ability
- Wrongful death of a family member
Financial damages include out-of-pocket expenses, meaning those insurance does not cover. Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering are more difficult to quantify because of their intangible nature.
Failure to properly and promptly diagnose an illness can be a matter of life and death. If a patient sustains injuries and can establish negligence on the doctor’s part, there may be grounds for a malpractice suit.