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When can misdiagnosis be a case of medical malpractice?

As much as New Yorkers might think otherwise, when they visit their doctors, the physician is really just giving her best educated professional guess about what is wrong. She then prescribes a treatment based on that guess.

The stakes are often high. For example, a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer can mean that a Brooklyn patient does not receive the treatment he needs for months or even years until another doctor correctly diagnosis the condition. The final result can be that the patient who otherwise might have lived dies because of the delayed treatment.

Delays aside, a misdiagnosis could also mean that a patient receives a medicine or treatment that she does not need or that will actually make her condition worse.

A patient who has been injured by a misdiagnosis must prove his case

Not every misdiagnosis automatically makes for a viable medical malpractice case.

For example, many different conditions have similar symptoms. A doctor has the right to make a differential diagnosis, which describes the process of the doctor narrowing down the possible medical problems that could be affecting the patient and then ruling out each one.

Although the process can take time and may involve additional testing. This is still an acceptable approach as long as the patient’s true diagnosis was on the doctor’s list of possible problems.

In other situations, though, a patient will be able to show that a reasonable doctor would have diagnosed her condition correctly or, in the case of a delayed diagnosis, more quickly than her physician actually did.

A patient will also have to use evidence, including the testimony of an expert witness, in order to prove how the doctor’s misdiagnosis caused her condition to worsen.