Medical Misdiagnosis Attorney in Hollywood, FL
Receiving a diagnosis for a severe medical condition can be shocking and overwhelming –especially if you learn that your condition was misdiagnosed or could have been detected sooner. Prompt attention is a crucial part of successful medical treatment. Failure to identify and address some conditions could worsen symptoms, a more extended recovery period, or potentially life-altering or life-threatening outcomes.
Unfortunately, negligent diagnostic errors can and do happen. When a misdiagnosis leads to improper treatment, patients sometimes experience dangerous or even fatal complications.
What Is Medical Misdiagnosis?
Medical misdiagnosis can involve an incorrect diagnosis, a delayed diagnosis, or a failure to recognize symptoms that should have led to a diagnosis.
Keep in mind that even knowledgeable and accomplished medical professionals sometimes make negligent errors when they diagnose patients. To have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit, a patient must be able to prove that their misdiagnosis resulted in improper medical treatment, delayed treatment, or a total lack of treatment that caused their medical condition to worsen.
The majority of medical misdiagnosis cases fall into the following categories:
- Causal diagnosis – Occurs when healthcare professionals correctly diagnose a condition but fail to identify the cause. This can lead to long-term problems even if the effects of the disease are treated
- Delayed diagnosis – This happens when medical providers fail to diagnose conditions promptly. Even if a delayed diagnosis is correct, it may be too late for a patient’s treatment to be effective.
- Improper differential diagnosis – This can occur when doctors do not use standardized methods for evaluating patients. Medical professionals who rely on their instincts rather than accepted scientific standards can make diagnostic errors that prove harmful or even fatal.
- Incorrect diagnosis – Occurs when a diagnosis is incorrect and patients are treated for the wrong condition. Treatment based on an inaccurate diagnosis can sometimes lead to worse outcomes than no treatment at all.
- Incorrect patient – This happens when healthcare providers accidentally mix up prescriptions or other medical records for different patients. It is incredibly dangerous for a patient to receive the wrong diagnosis or treatment based on someone else’s records.
- Medication side effect misdiagnosis – This type of misdiagnosis occurs when doctors fail to recognize that a patient’s symptoms are side effects of a drug they are taking.
Causes of Medical Misdiagnosis in Hollywood, FL
Every case is different, but the majority of misdiagnosis claims in Hollywood, Florida, involve one or more of the following root causes:
- Failure to recognize symptoms – Doctors misdiagnose patients when they do not notice a patient’s symptoms or fail to differentiate symptoms of similar medical conditions. When doctors do not recognize or evaluate symptoms appropriately, misdiagnosed patients may suffer without necessary treatment.
- Communication issues – Misdiagnoses are more likely when doctors, nurses, or other healthcare providers maintain poor documentation, make errors in patients’ records, or fail to communicate critical patient information. These types of communication issues can lead to missed symptoms or even medication errors.
- Inadequate staffing – A lack of appropriate medical staff alone doesn’t cause diagnostic errors, but medical professionals who have less time with more patients are more likely to make mistakes. Many misdiagnoses occur because doctors simply do not have enough time to evaluate every patient carefully.
- Faulty diagnostic equipment – If a diagnostic device or another piece of medical equipment malfunctions, it may provide inaccurate results before anyone notices the issue. Incorrect readings or test results can misrepresent a patient’s actual symptoms and make misdiagnosis more likely.
- Diagnostic testing errors – If a doctor, nurse, or lab technician mixes up test samples, labels specimens inaccurately, or misuses diagnostic equipment, patients’ test results may be inaccurate. Errors in a patient’s test results can easily lead to misdiagnosed conditions and improper treatment.
Common Types of Medical Misdiagnosis Cases
Many medical conditions have overlapping symptoms, and there are just as many ways the diagnosis of those symptoms can go wrong. Some of the most common types of misdiagnosis include:
- Cancer misdiagnosis – Many different types of cancer present a variety of other symptoms. Failure to diagnose aggressive cancers can put patients at serious risk. Patients who are incorrectly diagnosed with cancer may undergo painful and unnecessary treatments like chemo and radiation.
- Heart attack misdiagnosis – Heart attack symptoms sometimes mimic symptoms of indigestion, panic attacks, or other medical conditions. Heart attacks are dangerous and require prompt medical attention, so misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a heart attack can prove deadly.
- Staph infection misdiagnosis – Staph infections are bacterial infections that sometimes cause nausea, diarrhea, dehydration, and fever. These symptoms are sometimes misdiagnosed as symptoms of the common flu virus, which is treated with antiviral medications rather than antibacterial drugs.
- Stroke misdiagnosis – Strokes are emergency medical conditions characterized by interruptions or blood flow reductions to the brain. A stroke can sometimes be misdiagnosed as migraine or seizure, leading to improper treatment and potentially fatal consequences.
- Asthma misdiagnosis – Asthma is a respiratory condition that is sometimes misdiagnosed as recurring bronchitis. Bronchitis symptoms are similar to asthma symptoms but have different causes, which means an asthma misdiagnosis could lead to improper treatment and a worsened condition.
How Can You Prove Misdiagnosis in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
It’s important to understand that doctors are not legally responsible for every misdiagnosis that occurs. Patients who make misdiagnosis claims are generally expected to demonstrate that the four following elements exist to prove that misdiagnosis should be considered medical malpractice:
- There was a real doctor-patient relationship. Doctors owe their patients a specific duty of care, but not every doctor who comes into contact with a patient is automatically responsible for their care. Medical malpractice claims rely on proving that a doctor breached his or her duty of care to a patient, so it’s necessary to establish that there was a genuine doctor-patient relationship in effect.
- The doctor failed to meet proper standards of care. It’s not enough to prove that you were misdiagnosed in a medical malpractice claim. You need to show that your misdiagnosis was the result of a doctor’s negligence. To do this, you must demonstrate that your doctor did not follow proper standards of care in diagnosing and treating your condition.
- The doctor’s misdiagnosis caused harm. This tends to be the most challenging element to prove in a misdiagnosis claim since it’s not always easy to demonstrate that a misdiagnosis directly and negatively impacted your health. You must be able to show that a negligent misdiagnosis caused actual harm because incorrect treatment or a lack of treatment left you in worse condition than you would have been with a correct diagnosis.
- The patient suffered real losses because of the misdiagnosis. Finally, you must show that your misdiagnosis caused you to suffer actual losses that can be addressed with compensation from a medical malpractice claim. Examples of these losses include additional medical expenses, unnecessary pain and suffering, lost income, and a reduced chance at recovery or survival.
Statute of Limitations for Florida Misdiagnosis Cases
If you plan to file a medical malpractice claim for misdiagnosis in Hollywood, Florida, you should be aware of how Florida’s statute of limitations could affect your case. Every state has a statute of limitations laws that impose limits on the amount of time people have to file certain lawsuits.
Florida’s statute of limitations provides two years for medical malpractice claims. This two-year period begins on the date you knew or reasonably should have known by exercising “reasonable diligence” that you were injured as a result of medical malpractice. However, Florida also has a rule called the statute of repose, which prohibits medical malpractice victims from filing claims more than four years after the actual malpractice incident occurred.
This means that in most cases, you have two years from the date that you learned or reasonably should have known about your malpractice-related injury to file a lawsuit. However, if the misdiagnosis that led to your injury occurred more than four years ago, you would be unable to file a case even if you had just learned that the misdiagnosis caused your injury.
There are two possible exceptions to the four-year limit set forth by the statute of repose. If a healthcare provider attempted to hide their medical malpractice through fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation, the statute of repose might be extended for a total of seven years. And if a Florida medical malpractice case involves a child under the age of eight, the statute of repose may be extended through the child’s eighth birthday.
Why You Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer for a Misdiagnosis Claim
The experienced attorneys of Rosen & Ohr, P.A., understand medical malpractice law and how it applies to your misdiagnosis claim. Our team can thoroughly investigate your case to determine whether your healthcare providers were negligent in their misdiagnosis of your condition.
If you suffered unnecessary complications, pain, or treatment delays because of your Hollywood medical misdiagnosis, we will fight aggressively to hold the at-fault parties responsible. Our goal will be to seek the full and fair compensation that you deserve.