Medical Misdiagnosis

Doctor looking at papers on a blue clipboard.

When patients visit a doctor, they expect their healthcare provider to diagnose their medical condition accurately. Unfortunately, there are times when a doctor, surgeon, dentist, psychiatrist, or other professional misdiagnoses a patient’s medical condition. Medical misdiagnosis can lead to serious complications, ineffective treatment, and an escalation of the severity of the medical condition. 

If you have suffered harm because of a medical misdiagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice lawsuits are complex and speaking to an attorney as soon as possible is important. The attorneys at Hunt Law Firm are prepared to handle every aspect of your case and pursue the most compensation possible. 

What Is a Medical Misdiagnosis?

Medical misdiagnosis cases refer to situations in which healthcare providers fail to correctly identify or diagnose a patient’s medical condition, leading to additional harm or death. Medical misdiagnosis is a type of medical negligence in which the healthcare provider’s actions deviate from the standard of care in his or her field of practice, resulting in an incorrect diagnosis and improper treatment. 

Common Causes of Medical Misdiagnosis

In most cases, medical misdiagnosis occurs due to the healthcare provider’s negligence. Doctors are under more pressure than ever to see as many patients as possible daily. In his or her haste, a doctor may fail to gather enough relevant information about a patient’s medical history, risk factors, and symptoms. 

Failure to take a thorough medical history can lead a doctor to miss important symptoms and make an inaccurate diagnosis. During the physical examination, a doctor may fail to check for physical symptoms or incorrectly interpret the examination findings, contributing to a misdiagnosis.

Diagnostic and Laboratory Errors

Medical professionals use diagnostic tests to make accurate medical diagnoses. They frequently use biopsies, blood tests, and imaging studies, such as MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays, to rule out conditions and narrow down a patient’s diagnosis. In other cases, doctors fail to recommend a specialist consultation for patients with unusual or complex cases. When a healthcare provider fails to speak to relevant specialists or refer the patient to them, the doctor is more likely to misdiagnose the patient. 

Failure to Consider Alternative Diagnoses

Many medical conditions have similar symptoms. Doctors receive training allowing them to narrow down potential medical conditions until they focus on a single diagnosis. When a doctor immediately begins focusing on one diagnosis without considering alternative options, it can result in misdiagnosis. When several conditions may be viable, a doctor should conduct appropriate diagnostic tests to determine which diagnosis is the most likely.

Medical Misdiagnosis Caused By Cognitive Biases

Doctors are susceptible to cognitive biases, like all humans. For example, a doctor may have an anchoring bias who relies too heavily on the initial information the patient provides. Others may suffer from confirmation bias by favoring information supporting the doctor’s preconceived diagnosis. These biases can hurt a doctor’s impartial, diagnostic reasoning and may lead to a misdiagnosis. 

Medical Misdiagnoses Can Cause Serious Injuries and Death

Misdiagnosing a medical condition, whether an injury, disease, or illness, can cause serious complications. When a medical professional misdiagnoses a patient, the patient will not be able to receive the correct medical treatment. Receiving the incorrect treatment will jeopardize a patient’s health and well-being. 

The patient’s health can worsen significantly during the time spent treating a patient for a condition he or she doesn’t have or not treating the patient at all. By the time the patient receives the correct diagnosis, he or she may be too ill to recover. The treatment options for the patient’s condition may become limited due to the progression of the illness. 

Proving Diagnostic Errors in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Recovering compensation through an insurance claim or a medical malpractice lawsuit requires the plaintiff to prove the doctor’s or hospital’s liability. The legal burden of proof falls on the patient who has suffered an injury from being misdiagnosed. Proving liability requires proving several elements by providing the court with evidence. 

The patient must prove that a doctor-patient relationship exists and that the doctor acted negligently by failing to provide competent medical treatment. Specifically, the patient needs to prove that the doctor’s misdiagnosis equates to the failure to provide the same level of medical care that another doctor would have delivered in a similar specialty. Finally, the patient needs to prove that his or her injuries were caused by the doctor’s negligence. 

Available Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

The New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act aims to promote the health of New Mexico’s residents. This law makes professional liability insurance available for doctors practicing in New Mexico. Medical malpractice law is governed by a “pure comparative fault” system. New Mexico follows a pure comparative fault system. 

As a result, the compensation victims can recover is calculated on the percentage of fault assigned to the negligent healthcare provider. Victims can pursue economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are easily quantifiable damages, including the victim’s current and future medical expenses, rehabilitation, loss of earning potential, and loss of future earning capacity due to disability. Victims can also pursue compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. However, there is a cap on the amount of non-economic damages victims can recover in medical malpractice cases. 

New Mexico’s Cap on Non-Economic Damages

Victims cannot recover more than $600,000 for non-economic damages. The statute of limitations in New Mexico is three years from the negligent act or omission in most cases. The sooner you reach out to an attorney, the sooner your attorney can begin gathering evidence and ensuring you file your claim in a timely manner. 

Discuss Your Case with a Medical Misdiagnosis Attorney in New Mexico 

The attorneys at Hunt Law are prepared to investigate your case and determine whether an incorrect diagnosis caused you to suffer additional injuries. We have a proven track record of recovering millions of dollars in compensation for victims of medical malpractice. Don’t hesitate to contact Hunt Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation case evaluation and learn more about your legal options.