Posted on Monday, September 23rd, 2019 at 12:31 pm
Medical misdiagnosis is the failure to diagnose a patient’s health condition correctly. It can cause serious complications for the patient if the wrong treatment is prescribed or no treatment is given at all. Someone who has suffered from a medical misdiagnosis may sue the physician for damages, including all necessary additional medical treatment, lost wages, non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages if gross negligence can be proven.
According to some surveys, the percentage of diagnoses that are incorrect has increased. It is calculated that around 1 in 5 diagnoses in Texas is a misdiagnosis. Reasons for misdiagnoses include one or more of the following;
- a failure to spend enough time examining a patient;
- a failure to do diagnostic testing or enough diagnostic testing;
- a failure to review a test results when received;
- allowing other less qualified or unqualified staff members make an assessment about a patient’s condition.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that physicians have become busier and do not allow sufficient time to examine their patients. The emphasis is on getting through as many patients as possible in a given period of time. One survey suggested that the average amount of time a doctor listens to a patient describing their symptoms was only 11 seconds before interrupting and suggesting a diagnosis or treatment.
Physicians may be reluctant to send off for diagnostic test results if they are concerned that the patient’s health insurance will not cover the testing. Similarly, to cut costs the test results when received may be given to an unqualified staff member to review rather than do the review personally.
The five most common conditions misdiagnosed
Misdiagnosis may be of any health condition, but some misdiagnoses are more common than any other. Five examples are given below.
Depression may be temporary, and relate to specific ongoing circumstances, e.g. the death of a loved one, or being fired from a job, or chronic. Chronic depression is different as it demands treatment if the patient is to recover. It is the detection of a patient’s chronic depression which is a particularly common misdiagnosis.
Cancer misdiagnosis has been reported as twice the average misdiagnosis for other diseases. Physicians may not detect the possibility of cancer unless they are already aware of a causative factor such as family history of a specific cancer or lifestyle factors, e.g. smoking, morbid obesity, etc.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are similar to other health complaints like arthritis, such as muscle and joint pain. This can easily lead to the wrong diagnosis.
Similar to cancer, doctors may be looking for ‘red flag’ indicators such as lifestyle or family history and if not present, dismiss the possibility of stroke, leading to a potentially disastrous misdiagnosis.
- Heart disease
Symptoms of heart disease are not always uniform, especially when males and females are compared. It is quite common for doctors to miss detecting heart disease because the classic symptoms, e.g. crushing pain in the chest, are missing.
Caps on medical malpractice lawsuits in Texas
There are no caps on economic damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit, but there are caps on both non-economic damages and punitive damages. Note that while non-economic damages are a typical component of a medical malpractice claim, punitive damages are only awarded in the worst cases of proven medical negligence.
The cap on non-economic damages after a medical misdiagnosis by a single doctor is $250,000. A total of $750,000 is allowed in the event that several parties are sued.
The cap on punitive damages is calculated as twice the economic damages plus $750,000 for non-economic damages. For example, if a medical misdiagnosis results in $500,000 of extra medical treatment and lost income, the total allowable for punitive damages if this can be claimed amounts to $1,750,000 (twice $500,000 plus $750,000).
You will need a determined an dedicated lawyer if contemplating a medical negligence lawsuit
If you have suffered harm from a medical misdiagnosis in or around McAllen, contact the Patino Law Firm for advice on your legal options. You can contact a medical negligence attorney at the Patino Law Firm at 956-631-3535.