A study conducted by researchers from the Mayo Clinic reveals that about 12 million people in Pennsylvania and around the country are misdiagnosed by their primary care physicians each year. Misdiagnosed patients do not receive the care they need and may suffer additional harm caused by the side effects of unnecessary treatment. However, proving that a doctor acted negligently can be challenging for misdiagnosed patients who choose to pursue legal remedies.
To establish doctor negligence and liability in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff must show that the care they received failed to meet generally accepted health care standards. In a case involving misdiagnosis, this means convincing the jury that another doctor with the same background would have diagnosed the condition involved correctly given a similar set of facts. Once they have done this, the plaintiff must prove that they suffered injury, loss or damage as a direct result of the misdiagnosis.
This can be difficult as misdiagnosed patients were already sick, and their doctors could argue that a timely diagnosis may not have made much of a difference. This burden is generally easier to meet in misdiagnosis cases when patients underwent unnecessary surgery or were subjected to aggressive and harsh treatments like chemotherapy.
Medical malpractice plaintiffs tend to face defendants with deep pockets, reputations to protect and insurance providers that mount fierce defenses because of the significant damages often awarded in these cases. Personal injury attorneys with experience in this area may seek to overcome these challenges by consulting with retired or non-practicing doctors and specialists who might be less reluctant to draw attention to the mistakes made by health care providers. Attorneys may also point out to those thinking of pursuing a medical malpractice claim that civil litigants are not required to prove their arguments beyond any reasonable doubt.