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Can I take action if I was misdiagnosed due to doctor error?

When you visit a doctor with a medical issue, you expect to receive a diagnosis so you can be treated for the issue. What you don't expect is that your doctor will miss a diagnosis or fail to make the right diagnosis. When that occurs, your health and life can be put in jeopardy. Our readers in Washington, District of Columbia, might like to learn the answers to some common questions.

How will I know if I have been the victim of a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis?

Determining if you have been a victim of misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose involves knowing what would have been a reasonable diagnosis from the doctor based on the information available and the skill of the doctor. This means that a general practitioner wouldn't likely be liable for a missed diagnosis of a rare cancer, but an oncologist might be liable. Expert testimony is one way that this can be determined.

What can happen if my doctor doesn't diagnose me properly?

In the case of a missed diagnosis or failure to diagnose, the effect depends on the condition. Failing to diagnose a heart attack can have fatal consequences. If treatment for cancer is delayed because of a missed diagnosis, serious effects can occur. If your doctor doesn't properly diagnose influenza, you might not notice any adverse effects from the lack of proper diagnosis.

What can I do about my situation?

If you have been the victim of a delayed diagnosis, a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose, you can seek compensation. This involves filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor. Once you decide you want to file a case, you have to get expert testimony and other evidence necessary to prove your case.

Source: FindLaw, "Failed/Erroneous Diagnosis and Treatment" Sep. 12, 2014

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