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Blogs, Personal Injuries Blog

Can You Sue A Doctor For A Misdiagnosis?

Research has shown that the majority of Americans will receive an incorrect or delayed medical diagnosis, at some point throughout their lifetime.

Considering this alarming statistic, can you sue a doctor for a misdiagnosis?

We’re here to answer that question and more. We’ll explain what a misdiagnosis is, how it differs from missed diagnosis and when it can be interpreted as medical malpractice.

Plus, we’ll share info about liable parties and detail how our personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein can help you seek compensation for a medical misdiagnosis.

Seeking compensation after a misdiagnosis?


Bradford H. Bernstein

This article was written and reviewed by Bradford H. Bernstein, a second-generation leader at Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, P.C., who has helped over 100,000 clients with immigration and personal injury issues. Brad joined the firm in 1993, became a partner in 1997, and assumed leadership in 2000 after Harry Spar retired.

View Brad's Bio

What Is A Misdiagnosis?

A misdiagnosis is the practice of a medical professional incorrectly diagnosing a medical condition in a patient.

Causes of a misdiagnosis can include:

  • Lack of knowledge about a patient’s medical history
  • Lack of time to evaluate a patient’s symptoms or run necessary tests
  • Lack of resources, such as imaging centers or laboratories
  • Lack of experience
  • Misinterpretation of test results
  • Misplacement of lab results
  • Miscommunication between medical providers, if a patient uses multiple medical providers

Misdiagnosis vs. Medical Malpractice

In the eyes of the law, a misdiagnosis or a negative outcome does not always mean medical malpractice.

To prove medical malpractice, you must prove that:

  • The doctor, hospital or health provider deviated from the appropriate standard of care
  • You were harmed as a result of the medical malpractice or you lost the opportunity to be cured of a condition

Being harmed can mean:

  • Surgical errors
  • Unnecessary exposure to aggressive or harmful treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation
  • Unnecessary surgeries, especially when they lead to reduced body functioning, scarring or disfigurement
  • Worsening of the current condition
  • Increased risk of complications
  • Increased risk of death

Due to the complexity of misdiagnosis cases and the evidence needed to prove negligence, attempting to seek compensation on your own can be extremely difficult and complicated.

Our experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein have been representing personal injury clients and victims of medical malpractice for over 50 years.

We will review your case, determine whether there is evidence of negligent behavior and explain your options for seeking compensation.

Common Misdiagnosis Examples

Common examples of misdiagnosed conditions and illnesses include:

  • A heart attack, misdiagnosed as a panic attack or indigestion
  • A stroke, misdiagnosed as migraine, especially if the patient is young
  • A staph infection, misdiagnosed as the flu
  • Asthma, misdiagnosed as recurring bronchitis
  • Lymph node inflammation, misdiagnosed as appendicitis
  • Lyme disease, mistaken for mononucleosis, the flu or depression
  • Lupus, misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia
  • Parkinson’s disease, misdiagnosed as stress, a stroke or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis, misdiagnosed for a pinched nerve

The Effects Of A Misdiagnosis

While a misdiagnosis does not always lead to a serious outcome, there are some situations in which it can be health- or life-threatening.

In fact, after heart disease and cancer, medical mistakes are the third leading factor of death in the United States, according to a study by Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The effects of a misdiagnosis can include:

1. Administration Of The Wrong Medication

If you were misdiagnosed, you may have also been provided with the wrong medication to treat your condition. This can lead to serious side effects and complications.

2. Unnecessary Surgeries

Misdiagnosis can lead to unnecessary surgery, resulting in pain, work absences, lost income and a long recovery, not to mention costly medical bills.

3. Medical Complications

Medical complications can often result from a misdiagnosis.

For example, an unnecessary appendicitis surgery that leads to intestinal perforation or internal bleeding, putting your health and life at risk.

4. Delayed Treatment

A misdiagnosis can delay the treatment of your true condition, which can in turn cause the condition to worsen. Delayed treatment can lead to many side effects, including complications.

5. Death

A misdiagnosis can lead to further deterioration of your condition and eventually result in a fatal outcome.

If you suffered injuries or harm as a result of a medical misdiagnosis, you may be able to seek compensation. If you’re not sure whether medical malpractice was involved, contact our team at Spar & Bernstein – we’ll review the details of your case and explain your options for seeking compensation.

A worried woman at the doctor's office
A misdiagnosis can lead to unnecessary surgeries, medical complications and even death

Can You Sue A Doctor For Misdiagnosis?

Yes — if medical malpractice is established, you can sue your doctor for a giving you an incorrect diagnosis.

In some cases, you can sue all of the parties who contributed to your misdiagnosis, including:

  • Physicians
  • Physician’s assistants
  • Nurses
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Surgeons
  • Clinics

Can you sue a hospital for a misdiagnosis? The answer to this question is also yes.

Each case of potential misdiagnosis is unique and requires special care and attention to detail.

After looking into the details of your case, our knowledgeable attorneys at Spar & Bernstein will determine the medical provider’s liability and explain your options for moving forward with a lawsuit.

Not sure you have a medical malpractice case?

Talk to our lawyers!

Can You Seek Compensation For A Misdiagnosis?

In a misdiagnosis case based on medical malpractice, you can seek both economic and non-economic damages for the effects that your misdiagnosis had on your life.

The economic damages can include:

  • Past and future medical expenses, including emergency costs, medical treatment, physical or psychological therapy
  • Medical equipment expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Household maintenance expenses

The non-economic damages can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of companionship
  • Diminished quality of life

The time period in which you have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations, varies by state. In New York, it is 30 months after the date of the malpractice.

If your treatment continues after the malpractice, the time limit is extended to two and a half years after your last appointment and treatment for the same condition that is the subject of the malpractice.

After the expiration of the set deadlines, your lawsuit for a misdiagnosis is likely to be declined — which is one of the reasons why seeking professional legal advice as early as possible is vital.

How Spar & Bernstein Can Help You In A Misdiagnosis Case

For more than 50 years, The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein have handled thousands of personal injury cases in New York and New Jersey, including medical malpractice.

Approaching each situation with the utmost care and compassion, our team has a portfolio full of inspirational success stories.

If you have been misdiagnosed or believe there was negligent behavior on the part of the medical professionals who treated you, contact our attorneys to set up a free consultation.

Our experienced team will:

  • Examine your medical records
  • Identify the parties responsible for your misdiagnosis
  • Determine whether there are grounds for a medical malpractice claim
  • Assist you in gathering medical records from your various medical providers
  • Speak with competent medical experts to assess your condition and offer testimony
  • Attempt to determine the likelihood of success in your case
  • Complete and file all documentation within the legal deadlines
  • Fight for maximum compensation on your behalf, during settlement negotiations and hearings
  • Pursue maximum compensation for wrongful death, if you have lost a loved one as a result of a misdiagnosis

Our top priority is making sure that every client has representation, regardless of their financial status. Only after we reach a successful outcome in your case do we collect our representation fee, in the form of a small percentage of your final compensation.

A lawyer working on a medical malpractice case
Our knowledgeable legal team at Spar & Bernstein will review your medical records and identify the possibility for a medical malpractice claim

How To Prevent Being Misdiagnosed

While unfortunate and potentially dangerous, misdiagnosis mistakes can happen.

To minimize the risk of being misdiagnosed:

  • Take medical records from the past two years to your doctor’s appointment, including X-rays and lab results from previous health care providers
  • List all of your symptoms and be as specific as possible
  • Share the health history of your family
  • Bring medication you are taking to your doctor’s appointment in the original containers
  • Ask questions about terms you do not understand
  • Ask your doctor if it is ok if you record the visit, and then do so. Most of the time doctors will have no problem with you recording the visit.
  • Ask the doctor to review your results more than once
  • Seek a second opinion
  • Visit a new doctor who has good reviews and recommendations
  • Make an appointment with a specialist

In addition to representing injured clients and fighting for fair compensation, our mission at Spar & Bernstein’s includes educating the public on legal situations and ways to reduce the risk of personal injuries.

Whether you are sure you’ve been misdiagnosed, or you’re wondering whether your case includes medical malpractice, our team is here to help.

Contact our knowledgeable attorneys to schedule a free consultation. We’ll review the details of your case and provide professional advice on next steps.

Need to file a medical malpractice claim?

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Disclaimer: attorney advertisement. prior successful results do not guarantee a similar outcome