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What are Your Legal Options After a Mistaken Diagnosis?

Posted in Medical Malpractice on February 26, 2023

Imagine waking up on the day you are supposed to lift your life-long dream award and receive a call from your doctor. He tells you that the cancer test results came in positive! In a podcast aired by Billboard, pop star Kelly Clarkson explained why she would never forget since it was her most bitter-sweet experience. It was during the Grammy Awards 2006, which meant she could finally get her hands on a pair of awards, but her doctor told her she had cancer that day.

The singer said she later found out that the doctor had misdiagnosed her and that a blood clot in her wrist led to the diagnosis. And what’s worse about a mistaken diagnosis? The doctor doesn’t tell the patient they were misdiagnosed until after they’ve undergone a procedure or treatment that could have been avoided by knowing what was happening.

What is a mistaken diagnosis?

A mistaken diagnosis is when a doctor or other medical professional makes a mistake and diagnoses someone with something that they don’t have. According to research by CNN, 2.6 million people receive harm that could have been prevented by a misdiagnosis yearly. The researchers estimate that 7.4 million misdiagnosis errors are made every year. 370,000 people are permanently disabled or die because of misdiagnosis.

Types of misdiagnoses

A mistaken diagnosis does not end with an incorrect diagnosis. It also extends to:

  • Failure to treat.
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Improper treatment
  • Failure to diagnose a related disease

This paints the risk that Americans are exposed to a human error that could be averted. Doctors are trained to diagnose their patients, and then they will determine the best course of treatment based on that patient’s symptoms and history. This poses a question: what would happen if they got it wrong?

Results of mistaken diagnosis

With the heavy responsibility and trust that patients accord doctors, the errors they make often result to:

Ineffective or harmful treatment

A patient may be given ineffective or harmful treatments because the doctors who prescribed them were wrong. The patient is at a greater risk of experiencing side effects from their prescriptions than if they had received the correct diagnosis and treatment.

For example, a patient may be diagnosed with diabetes, and a doctor may recommend an insulin injection as the solution. But if that injection causes severe side effects, it could lead to complications preventing the patient from getting better results.

Lack of treatment

When a condition is not detected, a patient will not get any treatment for that cause. This makes patients become demoralized and lose hope in any medical procedures. They may end up becoming more ill or even die.

Unnecessary treatments and procedures

Movie star Sharon Stone revealed she had been misdiagnosed and received the wrong procedure (two epidurals) to lessen pain. What would happen in case of a mistaken diagnosis that proposes amputation? An irreversible procedure that can alter a patient’s life forever.

Adverse side effects

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most misdiagnosed conditions in children. In case of a misdiagnosis, ADHD medication is a stimulant that causes cardiomyopathy, psychosis, myocardial infarction, and even sudden death.

Legal options after a mistaken diagnosis

In any case of mistaken diagnosis, a medical practitioner must be held liable.  There are two possible ways to get through a compensation quest:


This is when the two parties involved in a medical malpractice case seek an amicable solution from an independent third party. The negligent party could propose a settlement, and the patient can decide whether to take the offer. When dissatisfied, the patient may proceed to court to seek compensation.

Filing a personal injury claim

When the mediation avenue doesn’t work, the best way to seek justice is through a lawsuit against the negligent party. The patient is entitled to monetary damages awarded in a civil court. The timelines for filing a medical negligence suit depend on the state’s statute of limitations.

The prosecution is made against the at-fault party. The patient is at liberty to claim for:

Medical costs

Medical care is already expensive. A patient can claim for the expenses incurred during a misdiagnosed treatment. Medical costs are usually awarded interest from the day of misdiagnosis as they are considered unnecessary expenses. This also includes future medical costs.

Loss of earning ability

Most misdiagnosis leads to reduced power and working ability in the future. It may be either temporary or permanent. In both cases, compensation is calculated according to the degree of harm to the patient. Other factors include:

  • Employment status
  • Salary
  • Occupation
  • Total income
  • Age
  • Life expectancy


Some mistaken diagnosis may lead to permanent changes to cognitive processes, mobility, and the ability to lead an independent life. This claim is made independently from the benefits  accorded by  The United States Social Security Administration.

Pain and suffering

Pain and suffering are priceless as they don’t have a market value. However, an attorney can help estimate the compensation for such a claim. This applies to both emotional turmoil and physical pain. This is calculated based on the following:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Life expectancy
  • Quality of life
  • Dependants if any
  • Prognostics and diagnostics

Death-related expenses

Sometimes mistaken diagnosis turns fatal and only kin are left to claim on behalf of the deceased. In this case, the legal administrators of the estate of the deceased may claim for:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of parental guidance
  • Loss of consortium

Documents needed when filing for a medical malpractice suit

Medical Malpractice Law

An appropriate document proves beyond doubt that there was a mistaken diagnosis before a court of law before any compensation is made. They include

  • Certificate of merit
  • Medical records that prove a misdiagnosis was made
  • Testimony from independent medical practitioners
  • Receipts of the incurred expenses
  •  Prescription drug history
  • Health insurance
  • Calculated cost of future medication
  • Documents from the defendant

All the required documents are accompanied by a formal application before a court within the legal jurisdiction which is determined under civil law. Contact the firm today at (504) 500-5000 or at our website to schedule an appointment.