Medical Misdiagnosis

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Medical Misdiagnosis Lawyer

A closeup image of a patient with clasped hands in the foreground and a doctor writing notes on a clipboard in the background.

Patients depend on their doctors to provide them with precise and timely diagnosis. But what happens if a medical professional misinterprets a patient’s condition, or misreads their test results? When a patient suffers because of a doctor’s inaccurate assessment of their illness, a medical misdiagnosis lawyer can help you recover damages for it.

At Hodes Milman, our medical malpractice lawyers understand the consequences of misdiagnosis. We have seen firsthand how devastating these cases can be, which is why we are painstakingly thorough in reviewing and preparing each case. Our extensive knowledge and resources have earned our medical malpractice lawyers a distinguished reputation and an impressive track record.

What is medical misdiagnosis?

A senior African American woman sits on a hospital bed as she receives an ear exam from an Asian doctor.

Medical misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to properly diagnose a patient’s condition. Given that healthcare professionals are human like the rest of us, mistakes will happen from time to time and not every instance of diagnostic error will qualify for legal action.

Being that medical misdiagnosis is a form of medical malpractice, they have similarities.

As with a medical malpractice lawsuit, a patient must prove that:

  1. A doctor-patient relationship existed
  2. The doctor provided substandard care
  3. The substandard care resulted in the patient’s injury
  4. The injury inflicted monetary, physical, or emotional damages to the patient

A medical misdiagnosis lawyer can help you understand if your potential case meets these requirements.

Types of Medical Misdiagnosis

A radiologist sits at a desk with monitors and his back to the camera as he watches an MRI scan on his screens.

Medical misdiagnosis can happen in a number of ways:

  • Delayed diagnosis. When a doctor fails to diagnose a condition in a timely manner and the patient suffers unnecessarily because of the delay, the doctor may be held liable. This is the most common type and occurs often in cancer misdiagnosis, particularly with breast cancer misdiagnosis.
  • Failure to diagnose a related disease. Certain illnesses increase the likelihood of related conditions. A doctor might correctly diagnose one disease, but stop short of this by failing to detect other illnesses that are closely related to the primary condition.
  • Failure to diagnose an unrelated disease. A doctor may rightly diagnose one disease but lack the thoroughness to detect another, unlikely illness in the patient.
  • Failure to recognize complications. When a doctor properly diagnoses an illness but fails to address how the illness might behave or other factors that could worsen it, the patient could suffer unnecessarily.
  • Missed diagnosis. The doctor dismisses any presence of illness entirely and gives the patient a “clean bill of health,” when there is in fact an illness or disease.
  • Wrong diagnosis. The doctor misidentifies an illness, for example, diagnosing a heart attack as a gastrointestinal issue — a common misdiagnosis.

At times, a physician may wrongly diagnose a healthy patient with a serious medical condition. Consequently, the doctor will prescribe unnecessary treatments that can actually hurt the patient’s health and burden them financially. Bad diagnoses can also cause an undue amount of emotional trauma and suffering for the patient.

Regardless of the details surrounding your unique situation, if a medical professional’s negligent or careless assessment of your health resulted in your injury or loss, it is in your best interest to contact a medical misdiagnosis lawyer as soon as possible.

Medical Misdiagnosis Statistics in the U.S.

Disturbing statistics reveal just how many Americans are misdiagnosed each year.

A study published on CBS News by the British Medical Journal found that 5% or roughly 12 million Americans are wrongly diagnosed each year.

Of those 12 million, one third die or suffer “serious permanent damage,” says a 2019 study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Quite simply, proper and timely diagnosis could mean the difference between life and death. If a healthcare provider fails to accurately and swiftly diagnose a condition, a patient’s health can quickly go from bad to worse.

On top of this, medical misdiagnosis can cost an ailing person precious time with improper or ineffective treatments, or no treatment at all. A common example of this is a cancer misdiagnosis that requires chemotherapy. As a result, the condition may worsen and end up requiring costly, invasive treatment by the time it’s properly diagnosed. Worst of all, it may result in a wrongful death.

Studies also show when and where a misdiagnosis is most likely to occur. Below, we examine the top causes.

Causes of Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose

An unrecognizable doctor with blue gloved hands holds a blood sample in one hand and writes notes on a clipboard with the other inside a lab.

An overwhelming majority of misdiagnoses — 71% — happen in outpatient clinics and the emergency department. Whether due to time constraints, oversight, or a high volume of patients, medical diagnosis occurs for several reasons.

Practically speaking, the top causes of medical misdiagnosis include:

  • Incomplete or rushed exams
  • Failure to recognize symptoms
  • Misinterpreting test results
  • Failure to order appropriate tests
  • Failure to follow up on tests

These causes are rooted in larger issues that a study by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine revealed:

  • Lost patient information — This can happen when a patient is transferred from one physician to another
  • Lack of reporting system — There isn’t currently a system in place to track how doctors or healthcare providers are performing in the diagnostic process, so they are largely unaware of their lack of performance
  • Lack of supporting resources — This includes quick and efficient tools to help them narrow down the cause for a symptom that is linked to hundreds of illnesses
  • Not enough time — Both patients and doctors agree that appointments are rushed and don’t allow enough time for the doctor to give a proper, thorough assessment of the patient’s health history or take all the steps necessary to make a working diagnosis
  • Poor communication — Patients are ill informed about who to speak to and what to ask regarding their symptoms, who is responsible for communicating test results and referrals, and the follow-up process
  • Lack of research — The impact of medical misdiagnosis requires proper research and funding to learn how it’s affecting patients and what can be done to improve this

Medical misdiagnosis continues to be the number one cause of serious medical errors. It is a serious issue that continues to lead thousands to suffer each year.

When to Contact a Medical Misdiagnosis Lawyer

A sick woman sits under her blankets on her bed with her dog as she makes a doctor appointment online.

Although mistakes can and do happen, patients can be seriously injured when a doctor deviates from the accepted standard of care. If this describes your situation and you were injured or lost a loved one, it is highly recommended that you contact a medical misdiagnosis lawyer right away.

Having spent the last 30 years pursuing these types of cases, we understand the heartache and turmoil your family may be experiencing right now. In the midst of this trying time, it’s important to remember that there is a time limit for filing a medical misdiagnosis lawsuit. This is known as the statute of limitations.

For the most part, the statute of limitations for a medical misdiagnosis is two years from the date of injury or the date of discovery for the injury.

To ensure you and your loved ones have the chance to seek damages for your losses, you should contact a medical misdiagnosis lawyer right away. Hodes Milman, LLP is available to give free, private consultations to advise you about the deadlines for your potential case. Simply call us at (949) 640-8222.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Misdiagnosis

Can you sue a doctor for misdiagnosis?
Yes. If a medical professional’s mistake caused you injury or resulted in a loved one’s death, you can bring a lawsuit against them for failing to act according to the accepted standard of care.

It’s important to note that a misdiagnosis alone is not always grounds for a lawsuit. The patient seeking damages must be able to prove that his or her presiding physician provided substandard medical care and it resulted in the patient’s loss or injury.

What types of damages can I recover in a medical misdiagnosis lawsuit?

A woman receives radiation treatment as she lies on her back in a dimly lit room.

This is a question that is best answered on an individual basis, since the details surrounding each case will vary.

However, one important factor to consider is that many medical misdiagnosis cases occur where there is a preexisting condition. When this happens, the doctor’s negligence didn’t cause the condition but merely delayed proper treatment, prescribed the wrong treatment, or gave no treatment at all.

A medical misdiagnosis attorney will be able to determine the value of a right, timely diagnosis. This can translate into compensation for:

  • Unnecessary treatments
  • Additional ailments resulting from the wrong treatment
  • Exacerbated injuries or sickness
  • Time away from work due to the misdiagnosis
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of a loved one

The surest way to understand the value of your case is by speaking with a qualified attorney.

Do I need to hire a medical misdiagnosis attorney near me?
No. While this typically depends on the law firm, the attorneys at Hodes Milman, LLP accept medical misdiagnosis cases throughout Orange County, Southern California, and all of California. We also accept cases in Arizona.

In the event that you are unable to travel, whether due to your injuries or complex health conditions, we are glad to come to you. Please reach out to see about how we can accommodate your travel arrangements.

Contact the Medical Misdiagnosis Attorneys at Hodes Milman

A group photo of the medical misdiagnosis lawyers and staff at Hodes Milman, LLP .

Medical misdiagnosis can create a painful and confusing time for patients. We are here to help provide you with practical, compassionate guidance.

Holding a doctor or medical provider accountable for a diagnostic error requires a firm with the right resources and experience. It’s true that many firms accept this type of medical malpractice case, though not many of them have the background or case results to prove their success rate.

We have secured $250+ million in verdicts and settlements for our clients and have the financial means required to see your case through.

Hodes Milman, LLP has built a reputation for being one of the top medical malpractice law firms in the nation. Our rich resources, coupled with over 100 years of combined experience make our team one of the most formidable courtroom opponents.

When you are ready to choose a firm to represent you and your loved ones, please consider how we can help you make the best recovery possible. Contact our medical misdiagnosis lawyers today for a private consultation at (949) 640-8222.


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When you work with us, you’ll see the difference. A lot of firms are quick to show you numbers, and it is absolutely true that your lawyer should have experience and a strong track record in the area that you require. However, we’ll take it one step further. We also believe that your attorney should put your needs, cares and desires first. Because you deserve more than just compensation for your losses - you deserve a true advocate.

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