The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) network estimates 33% of medical malpractice claims in the United States are the result of misdiagnosis and that more than 100,000 Americans “die or are permanently disabled every year due to misdiagnosis.”
A misdiagnosis may involve:
- Wrong diagnosis
- Missed diagnosis
- Delayed diagnosis
- Failure to recognize complications changing or aggravating an existing condition
- Failure to recognize the need for another, secondary diagnosis
If you are suffering because you were misdiagnosed, or a loved one was injured or died after being misdiagnosed, contact PCVA. Our attorneys are compassionate legal advocates with decades of experience aggressively pursuing medical malpractice claims on behalf of those injured or killed due to medical negligence.
To help you better understand this area of law, we have provided answers to frequently asked questions about medical malpractice and misdiagnosis lawsuits.
What is the process of diagnosing a disease?
Diagnosing a disease involves a great deal of information gathering. The National Institutes of Health specifically notes the following steps:
- Taking a detailed clinical history and interviewing the patient on their symptoms and risk factors
- Performing a physical exam
- Obtaining diagnostic testing, such as performing X-rays and CT scans or testing blood, spit, urine, stool, tissue and other samples
- Sending a patient for additional testing, referrals or consultations
How often do doctors misdiagnose a condition?
It is estimated that around 1 in 20 diagnoses (5%) are incorrect. Some conditions, like cancer, heart disease and infections are misdiagnosed more than other conditions.
What are the most misdiagnosed diseases?
According to the JAMA network, the most misdiagnosed diseases are:
- Cancer (37.8%)
- Vascular events, like heart attack and stroke (22.8%)
- Infections (13.5%)
Is a missed diagnosis considered medical malpractice?
When a healthcare professional fails to diagnose a condition or comes to the wrong conclusion about a particular condition that a patient is suffering from, then it is considered a form of medical malpractice. Such malpractice is, unfortunately, occurring more and more frequently, mainly due to doctors being stressed because of understaffing and high patient volumes in hospitals. The highly stressed and overly busy doctors often discount otherwise obvious symptoms as benign and fail to order essential tests that could help determine the severity of patient symptoms.
Can you sue a doctor for a misdiagnosis in Washington State?
In Washington State, you may sue a medical provider for a misdiagnosis if:
- The misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose resulted in improper care, delayed treatment or no treatment
- The misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose made the patient’s condition worse
The process of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Washington State is incredibly complicated, and you have a limited time to file – between one and eight years. We encourage you to contact PCVA attorneys to discuss your case and your legal options for pursuing a malpractice claim stemming from a misdiagnosis.
What does an investigation into an undiagnosed condition entail?
The burden of proof is on you, the plaintiff. It is up to you and your attorney to show:
- A doctor in the same or similar specialty would not have misdiagnosed the condition
- That the doctor breached their duty of care
- That the breach in their duty of care caused the patient pain, injury, loss or damage
- That the misdiagnosis directly caused harm to the patient
Washington State laws require you and the healthcare provider(s) involved to participate in mandatory mediation before a lawsuit can be filed. This means a qualified independent third-party (mediator) will have everyone meet to attempt to agree on a settlement before the case goes to trial. If mediation is unsuccessful, the case can go to trial.
An experienced Washington State personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and legal options for holding others liable for the suffering, injuries and death that resulted from a misdiagnoses.
How long do you have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Washington State?
In Washington State, you must file medical malpractice claims:
Within three years after the malpractice was committed
Within one year after you discovered you were injured as a result of medical malpractice
To further muddy the waters, what happens if you do not know you were injured by medical malpractice? Washington gives you a total of eight years to file a malpractice suit. After that, you lose the right to file.
How can PCVA help if you have a medical condition that was not properly diagnosed?
PCVA attorneys know what to do if you or a loved one has suffered as a result of an undiagnosed condition that was caused by medical malpractice in the Washington area. We know what questions to ask and what information we need to gather to build a strong legal case for you.
How much do you charge?
Our work is done on a contingency basis. This means that you do not pay us on an hourly basis, and we advance the costs of litigation. If we help you resolve your case, we receive a percentage of the amount you receive, and you reimburse us for the costs we advanced on your behalf.