Burden of Proof
Proceeding with a medical malpractice case based on diagnostic error, the burden of proof lies with the patient. The patient must prove certain facts:
- That a doctor in a similar specialty, under similar circumstances, would not have misdiagnosed the patient's illness or condition.
- The doctor did not include the correct diagnosis on the differential diagnosis list, and a reasonably skillful and competent doctor under similar circumstances would have.
- The doctor included the correct diagnosis on the differential diagnosis list but failed to perform appropriate tests or seek opinions from specialists.
Errors Within the Diagnostic Tests
Sometimes a doctor fails to correctly diagnose a condition because they relied on inaccurate results from laboratory tests, radiology films, etc. This can happen in one of two ways:
1. The diagnostic equipment used to test was faulty.
2. Human error occurred:
- the test samples were contaminated or mixed up
- the technician used an improper procedure
- the test results were read incorrectly
- the technician or specialist missed something in an x-ray or pathology slide.
Although the doctor might not be liable for medical malpractice in this situation, another person might be -- such as the technician that misread the pathology slide. Again, the patient must prove that the error was the result of negligence.
Did the Misdiagnosis Harm the Patient?
The patient must also prove that the doctor's negligent misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis caused the patient's injury or condition to progress beyond where it normally would have, had the doctor made the correct diagnose in a timely manner and that this progression had a negative impact on the patient’s treatment. Occasionally a patient can show harm even if their condition can still be treated. In the rare case that a doctor diagnoses a patient with a condition or illness that the patient does not have, the patient may also be able to prove harm in the form of anxiety, stress, medical problems, and expenses due to unnecessary treatment.
What To Do Next
Have you been the victim of a medical misdiagnosis? If you answered yes, know that there is a two-year statute of limitations on all personal injury claims, which medical malpractice falls under. After the statute of limitation has expired any ability towards a claim will be lost.
Contact our office today in Meridian, Idaho to schedule a free case evaluation with personal injury attorney Ron Shepherd and learn more about the claims process.