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How Do I Prove Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis?

How Do I Prove Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis?

Establishing solid evidence to prove that you were wrongfully treated by a medical professional is a vital component of any medical malpractice case. When a doctor misdiagnoses an illness or delays in correctly diagnosing a serious condition, it can lead to incorrect treatment methods, delayed treatment, or even no treatment at all. This can cause a patient's condition to rapidly decline and may even result in wrongful death.

Some of the ways that doctors and medical professionals can make diagnostic mistakes include:

  • Misdiagnosis: Your doctor told you that you have the wrong illness or condition.
  • Delayed diagnosis: You doctor eventually made the correct diagnosis, but only after a significant delay.
  • Missed diagnosis: The doctor tells you that you are healthy when in fact you have an undiagnosed illness or condition that needs to be treated.
  • Failure to recognize complications: Your doctor diagnosed you correctly, but failed to notice or treat factors which aggravate or change your illness or condition.
  • Failure to diagnose another disease: The doctor correctly diagnosed one illness or condition, but failed to notice that you are also suffering from another related or unrelated malady.

We take diagnosis errors very seriously at The Law Offices of David Henderson. Our Anchorage medical malpractice attorney explains what you can do if you have been subject to delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis in Alaska.

Establishing the Burden of Proof

In the field of medical malpractice law, doctors and other medical professionals are not held legally responsible for diagnostic errors automatically. Instead, it is up to the patient who was mistakenly diagnosed to establish the “burden of proof,” meaning you must prove their doctor acted negligently and caused harm as a result.

You must prove four things in order to be successful in a medical malpractice lawsuit:

  • A doctor-patient relationship was established between you and medical professional you wish to sue
  • The doctor was negligent in providing treatment
  • The doctor's negligence caused an injury to the patient
  • The patient’s injuries led to actual damages, such as medical bills

Was the Doctor Negligent?

Claiming that a doctor was negligent in providing care is an extremely serious allegation. It is for this reason that it is so important for you to prove without a doubt that your doctor acted in a way that does match the competence and skill level of a similarly trained medical professional.

Therefore, just because you experienced misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis doesn’t mean your doctor was negligent in the eyes of the law. Modern science and medicine are far from foolproof and even experienced doctors can and do make diagnostic mistakes, even when they are providing a reasonable and expected level of care.

Thus, the key to determining negligence is to show that another doctor trained in a comparable specialty and under similar circumstances would not have misdiagnosed your condition.

This typically means proving one of two things:

  • That your doctor did not identify the correct diagnosis when a reasonably skillful and competent doctor under the same circumstances would have, or
  • That your doctor did diagnose your condition correctly or on time but failed to appropriately follow up

Was the Patient Harmed?

As the patient in question, you must also prove that your doctor's incorrect diagnosis caused your injury or condition to become worse than it would have if correctly diagnosed.

For example, if your doctor failed to diagnose cancer while it was in its early stages, you may have been forced to undergo a more severe treatment plan such as chemotherapy. Or, perhaps your loved one experienced something similar and died as a result so you are bringing a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.

How a Lawyer Can Help

An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can work with you to establish the burden of proof and show beyond doubt that your doctor acted negligently and caused you harm. A lawyer can also secure the expert testimony of a medical professional in order to show that your doctor behaved in a manner that other similarly trained professionals would not have. With an attorney on your side, you can ensure the legal system works in your favor and you receive the just compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been affected by a wrong or delayed diagnosis, contact our Anchorage medical malpractice lawyer for a free, confidential consultation.
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