Medical misdiagnosis claims: how challenging are they for solicitors?

The trust placed on medical professionals stems from their supposed expertise and knowledge. But, there’s a big difference between theory and practice. Malpractice and misdiagnosis are common concerns anywhere you are in the world. Based on statistics, in the UK, there were around 11,000 clinical negligence claims reported to the NHS from 2018-2019. These incidents often lead to claims. And according to specialists like Gadsbywicks, understanding how these types of claims work is crucial to success.  

Is there a difference between missing a diagnosis and making a wrong diagnosis?

Every solicitor who intends to work in the field of medical malpractice knows the nuances between a misdiagnosis and a medical professional failing to make a diagnosis. A patient declared to be completely healthy when they are, in fact, suffering from a disease or medical condition is an example of a missed diagnosis. On the other hand, misdiagnosis occurs when the doctor recommends treatment for the wrong ailment or condition.

It’s essential to understand that in filing a claim, the patient needs to provide details on how the misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis resulted in their suffering. Filing a malpractice lawsuit should have a strong basis, supported with solid evidence. Practising lawyers are all too familiar with how challenging this type of claim can be. This is why you need to exhaust all available resources to support your case.

Why are medical malpractice cases challenging?

Misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis can lead to significant consequences for the person involved. Without proper and timely treatment, the patient’s condition could worsen. But to succeed in a claim, there are vital elements that the patient needs to prove.

  • Was there a doctor-patient relationship?
  • Did the medical professional breach their duties, or were they negligent?
  • Did the negligence directly cause the patient’s suffering or clinical injury?

Every medical professional subscribes to a specific standard of care. In general, filing a claim for negligence means proving that the practitioner deviated from this standard. For example, in a misdiagnosis claim, you need to make a comparison by looking at how a doctor with the same medical specialisation would have diagnosed the patient. Of course, all variables should be the same as well.

In addition, it’s also vital to determine the typical methodology used by the doctor in diagnosing patients. All the steps followed before the doctor arrived at a missed diagnosis or the wrong diagnosis will explain why the error occurred. At times, the error may be due to an incorrect diagnostic test result. As such, it will then be crucial to know whether faulty equipment or another party is liable for the malpractice. In most cases, expert witnesses evaluate whether or not the doctor did commit medical negligence.

Proving misdiagnosis isn’t the most challenging aspect of filing a claim. What’s most difficult to prove is whether the misdiagnosis is the direct cause of the patient’s injury. One clear example of causation would be when failing to diagnose an ailment caused it to get worse. Then again, proving this as a fact will require much diligence on the part of the patient and the solicitor.

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