Our law firm handles medical malpractice cases involving negligent misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. Our Maryland misdiagnosis lawyer have both settled and taken failure to diagnosis lawsuits to trial.
Our last verdict in a misdiagnosis case was for $5.2 million in Baltimore City. If you or a loved one have been a victim of an error in diagnosis, talk to a lawyer who will fight for you. Call 800-553-8082 or get a free no-obligation consultation.
When Is Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose Medical Malpractice?
One of the primary functions of a doctor is diagnosing what is wrong with a patient. Accurate and timely diagnosis is critically important because it ensures an effective course of treatment. In many cases, a timely diagnosis can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a patient’s condition is the basis for many medical malpractice lawsuits. However, failing to accurately diagnose a disease or condition right away does not automatically amount to medical malpractice. Doctors are not legally obligated to be perfect when it comes to making a diagnosis.
In order for a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis to be medical malpractice, it has to be the result of some type of negligence in the doctor’s diagnostic process. In other words, your misdiagnosis lawyer would need to show that the doctor failed to follow accepted medical practices in his efforts to diagnose your condition. Moreover, failure to diagnose is not malpractice unless it actually causes harm to the patient.
Required Proof in a Failure to Diagnose Medical Malpractice Case
If you want to sue a doctor for malpractice based on a misdiagnosis, you medical malpractice lawyer will need to prove 3 basic elements: (1) negligence, (2) injury, and (3) causation.
- Negligence: to establish negligence in a failure to diagnose case, a plaintiff needs to prove that the doctor breached the standard of medical care in his diagnostic efforts. Common examples include not performing the correct diagnostic testing (e.g., doing x-ray instead of CT scan) or misinterpreting testing results (e.g., failing to identify cancer tumor on mammogram). This is the issue our Maryland misdiagnosis lawyers are usually litigating.
- Injury: even if the doctor negligently fails to diagnose your condition, you won’ have a malpractice claim unless the misdiagnosis results in actual physical harm or injury. This is often referred to as the “no harm no foul” rule.
- Causation: the plaintiff must show that the doctor’s misdiagnosis was the actual cause of their alleged injuries. In other words, a plaintiff needs to show that their injuries would not have occurred had the doctor properly diagnosed the condition. In a sense, the doctor is arguing “even if I did screw-up” I’m not responsible because the harm would have occurred anyway.
Misdiagnosis Is Extremely Common
Even with all of the medical advances that have been made in diagnostic technologies – the blood tests, MRIs, CT scans, pathology testing, endoscopes, and the like – medicine still relies on humans to interpret these results. While most doctors are doing a great job interpreting these test results, far too many are not.
Studies of autopsies have suggested that doctors miss fatal illnesses approximately 20% of the time. This is just a stunning number.
BMJ Quality & Safety put out a study that found that at least 5% of outpatients receive an incorrect diagnosis from their physician. So it’s hard to dispute – and most doctors agree – that millions of patients are going untreated or are being treated by their medical doctors for the wrong condition or disease.
Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions That Lead to Malpractice Lawsuits
The four most commonly misdiagnosed injuries that lead to health care negligence claims, according to one recent study and our misdiagnosis lawyers’ experience, is breast cancer, colorectal cancer, infections, and skin cancer.
But those are just the claims that lead to malpractice. Pulmonary emboli and myocardial infarctions are two extremely common misdiagnosed problems that don’t make the list, mostly because the proof in these cases is sometimes more challenging.
Common diseases or conditions that are frequently misdiagnosed include:
- Breast Cancer
- Other Cancers (skin, colon, cervical, lung, prostate, ovarian, and testicular are commonly misdiagnosed)
- Heart Disease (heart attacks, strokes)
- Lyme Disease
- Necrotizing Fasciitis
- Pulmonary Embolism
- Epidural Abscess
- Cauda Equina Syndrome
- Colonoscopy Malpractice
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
- Aortic Dissection
Verdicts and Settlements in Misdiagnosis Cases
More medical malpractice payments to victims in Maryland come from misdiagnosis than any other claim. A Johns Hopkins study found that more than one-third of all medical malpractice payouts were from misdiagnosis lawsuits, totaling $38.8 billion over the last 20 years.
Below are recent settlements and verdicts from medical malpractice cases involving misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, or delayed diagnosis.
- Infection – $750,000 Settlement (Virginia 2021). physician’s assistant diagnosed 3-year-old girl with a benign upper respiratory infection. She ordered the administration of racemic epinephrine. The P.A. then discharged the girl. She reassured her parents that there was nothing wrong. The following day the girl went into respiratory arrest and later died from pneumonia and sepsis secondary to the flu. Her family sued for failure to diagnose.
- Infection – $1,000,000 Settlement (Pennsylvania 2020): patient in his 70s presented to hospital because of pain in his prosthetic knee and died from septic shock 10 hours later. His family brought misdiagnosis malpractice case alleging that the hospital failed to timely diagnose an infection, administer antibiotics, perform a joint aspiration, and diagnose sepsis. This case settled for $1 million.
- Breast Cancer – $680,000 Verdict (Washington, DC 2019): defendant radiologists negligently misread plaintiff’s mammogram screening and failed to identify a tumor in her left breast. As a result of this misdiagnosis the cancer progressed to a more advanced stage and plaintiff had to undergo double mastectomy and chemo rather than less invasive treatment. Jury in Washington DC awarded $680k in damages.
- Infection 2020 – $1 Million Settlement (Pennsylvania 2020): A 73-year-old man’s prosthetic knee joint became infected. He presented to the hospital. The man died from septic shock 10 hours later. His family alleged that the hospital staff’s negligence caused his death. They claimed they failed to timely diagnose an infection, administer antibiotics, perform a joint aspiration, and diagnose sepsis. This case settled for $1 million.
- Colon Cancer – $4,500,000 Settlement (New York 2019): radiologist properly identifies cancerous colon tumor on CT scan, but instead of calling patient or referring doctor he just makes a casual note on second page of report. Referring doctor never bothers to read second page so colon cancer goes undiagnosed for 19 months by which time it had progressed to more advanced stage.
More Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Settlements & Verdicts
Misdiagnosis Settlements and Verdicts
Below are recent settlements and verdicts in misdiagnosis cases. To give you a flavor of different types of misdiagnosis lawsuits, we have included claims outside of Maryland.
- 2021 Virginia: $750,000 Settlement. A 3-year-old girl suffered breathing difficulties, appetite loss, fever, lethargy, severe congestion, and wheezing. Her parents brought her to the pediatrician’s office. The physician’s assistant diagnosed the girl with a benign upper respiratory infection. She ordered the administration of racemic epinephrine. The P.A. then discharged the girl. She reassured her parents that there was nothing wrong. The following day, the girl’s condition worsened. Her mother contacted the pediatric office. An office provider told her to bring her daughter to the clinic for a steroid injection. The girl went into respiratory arrest while on her way to the clinic. She was brought to an out-of-state hospital. The girl died from a severe anoxic brain injury, which was caused by pneumonia and sepsis secondary to the flu. Her family alleged that the P.A.’s negligence caused her death. She claimed they failed to diagnose her with pneumonia, administered inappropriate medications, and prematurely discharged her. Following mediation, this case settled for $750,000.
- 2020, New York: $225,000 Settlement. A minor boy was diagnosed with vomiting and abdominal pain. He was eventually diagnosed with a right testicular torsion. The boy underwent an orchiectomy. He experienced decreased fertility, cosmetic deformities, and scarring. The boy’s family alleged that the hospital staff’s negligence caused his permanent injuries. They claimed they failed to timely order proper tests and properly diagnose the boy with testicular torsion. The defense denied the claims. They argued comparative negligence. This case settled for $225,000.
- 2020, Indiana: $800,000 Settlement. An 11-year-old girl’s eye was struck by a dart. She presented to the hospital. The girl was prematurely released. She eventually underwent a left enucleation. The girl now wore a prosthetic eye. She required future prosthetic replacements. The girl’s family alleged that the hospital staff’s negligence caused her permanent injuries. They claimed they misdiagnosed her eye injury, negligently recorded her patient history, and prematurely discharged her. The girl’s family initially settled for an undisclosed amount. They then filed a claim with the Indiana Department of Insurance. The family argued that the damages exceeded the initial settlement. They eventually received an $800,000 settlement from the Indiana Department of Insurance.
- 2019, Pennsylvania: $6,290,000 Verdict. A 48-year-old man with chest pains presented to his primary care physician. He received a cardiologist referral. The man informed the cardiologist of his medical history of obesity, high cholesterol, and familial premature coronary artery disease. He was diagnosed with panic attacks. The man did not undergo cardiac testing. Over one month later, he suffered a fatal attack while jogging. The man’s family alleged that the cardiologist’s negligence caused his death. They claimed he failed to appreciate his medical history, order cardiac tests, diagnose him with and arteriosclerosis. The defense denied these claims. A jury ruled in the family’s favor. They awarded $6,290,000.
- 2019, New Jersey: $375,000 Verdict. A woman with foot pain presented to a podiatrist. She was diagnosed with gout. The woman was eventually diagnosed with a right foot fracture. She required foot surgery. The woman was left permanently impaired. The woman alleged that her podiatrist’s negligence caused her permanent injuries. She claimed she failed to properly diagnose her foot fracture and departed from standard podiatric practices. The defense disputed these claims. A jury awarded the woman $375,000.
Contact Miller & Zois About Your Misdiagnosis Malpractice Case
If you or someone you love has suffered as the result of a health care provider’s misdiagnosis, call a Maryland misdiagnosis lawyer at 800-553-8082 or get a free no-obligation consultation.