Medical misdiagnosis is when a healthcare professional incorrectly diagnoses an illness or another health problem. This kind of error can lead to delayed recovery, under- or over-treatment, additional pain, undue stress, increased medical costs, anxiety, and even death.
If an emergency room medical misdiagnosis hurt you, you may be eligible to sue them for medical negligence. Contact Ratzan Weissman & Boldt's law firm to learn more about your legal options. Our Florida personal injury lawyers can help you understand your rights and aggressively fight for them. In the last seven years, we've obtained over $200 million in trial verdicts alone.
The Legal Basis for Suing an Emergency Room for Misdiagnosis
To sue an emergency room for a wrong diagnosis, patients must prove the following:
- There was an established doctor-and-patient relationship between the patient and the emergency room. Anyone who receives medical treatment in an emergency room should meet this criterion.
- The emergency room medical providers did not adhere to the standard of care. Like all healthcare professionals, emergency room staff must adhere to the standard of care. In other words, they must provide the degree of care a competent doctor with the same experience and training would offer under similar circumstances. If hospital emergency staff fail to provide healthcare services according to the standard of care, victims can sue them for medical malpractice.
- This failure to adhere to the standard of care harmed the patient. Patients can only sue if the providers' negligence caused them actual harm, such as medical costs and severe injury.
Common Types of Misdiagnosis in Emergency Room Cases
There are various types of misdiagnosis in emergency room cases, including delayed diagnosis, failure to promptly diagnose life-threatening conditions, and misinterpretation of diagnostic tests and imaging results.
Delayed Diagnosis and Its Consequences in Emergency Room Settings
A delayed diagnosis amounts to medical malpractice if:
- The healthcare provider could have reasonably been expected to make a correct diagnosis, and
- The delayed diagnosis caused the patient to suffer harm that would have otherwise been avoided.
For instance, a doctor may be forgiven for failing to diagnose an infection rarely observed in the United States. However, they would probably be held accountable for failing to diagnose a common condition, such as a bone fracture, especially if the patient has a history of recent trauma, pain, and swelling.
Failure to Diagnose Life-Threatening Conditions in a Timely Manner
Another type of misdiagnosis is failing to diagnose life-threatening conditions on time. This can cause patients to suffer severe harm, including a hastened death.
For example, suppose an emergency room patient has severe chest pains and breathlessness, which he suspects are signs of a heart attack. However, the emergency room doctor dismisses the patient's worries, rushes through screening and examinations, and claims the patient's symptoms are anxiety-related. He prescribes the patient anti-anxiety medicine and recommends following up with his primary care physician. Unfortunately, the patient's condition deteriorates over the next few hours. He eventually suffers a massive heart attack and passes away.
Another doctor exercising reasonable care would have diagnosed the heart attack much earlier, preventing disease progression and death.
Misinterpretation of Diagnostic Tests and Imaging Results
Emergency room doctors may also misinterpret diagnostic tests and imaging results, leading to medical errors, medication errors, and other complications.
To illustrate, suppose a patient comes to the emergency room with severe lower abdominal pain on the right side. She describes the pain as sharp and progressively worsening over the past day. Influenced by mild imaging findings and the patient's unremarkable clinical history, the doctor concludes that her symptoms are due to mild gastroenteritis or a gastrointestinal infection.
Once the patient returns home, she experiences even more intense abdominal pain, leading to another emergency room visit. Another doctor exercising reasonable care would have ordered a CT scan specifically targeting the appendix and diagnosed her with appendicitis much earlier, preventing additional pain and suffering.
Proving Medical Malpractice in Emergency Room Misdiagnosis Cases
If you or a loved one received an incorrect diagnosis in the emergency room, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim for compensation. Here's what you need to prove medical malpractice in emergency room misdiagnosis cases:
- Evidence proving your case: You need evidence proving the legal basis of your case. In other words, you need hospital records demonstrating that:
- There was an established doctor-and-patient relationship between you and the emergency room,
- The emergency room medical providers did not adhere to the standard of care, and
- The failure to adhere to the standard of care harmed the patient.
- A second opinion from another doctor: You also need another doctor's opinion to establish that you were the victim of emergency room misdiagnosis. If you don't know another doctor, you can contact Ratzan Weissman & Boldt's Florida law firm. We'll reach out to medical professionals to get a second opinion for you.
Talk to a Ratzan Weissman & Boldt medical malpractice lawyer to learn more about proving medical malpractice.
Seek Legal Assistance for Emergency Room Misdiagnosis Claims
Although you can file a diagnostic errors claim by yourself, doing so can be time-consuming, exhausting, and error-prone.
If you or a family member suffered injuries due to an emergency room misdiagnosis in Florida, contact Ratzan Weissman & Boldt. Our seasoned medical misdiagnosis lawyers will analyze your case to determine whether you can sue your hospital for misdiagnosis. If you're eligible, we can help you get the compensation you deserve by:
Gathering and preserving evidence to build your emergency room error lawsuit
Obtaining a second opinion about your medical care and medical history
Calculating how much compensation you deserve for your losses based on medical fees, pain and suffering, and other damages
Filing your paperwork ahead of Florida's two-year statute of limitations
Negotiating with the opposing side's lawyers for maximum compensation
Taking your case to court if the opposing side refuses to settle