Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor incorrectly diagnoses one’s injury or illness; this can be caused by misreading scans or results; it can also be described as the failure to produce a diagnosis at all. Misdiagnosis can lead to several things, including the worsening of one’s current condition, delayed correct diagnosis, or death, also known as wrongful death. In misdiagnosis cases, the doctor, hospital, pharmacy, or combination of the three can be sued for violation of “medical standard of care,” which is a reasonable level of skill and consideration that should be given to a patient. In order to file the suit, the injury or death must have occurred due to the misdiagnosis.
When suing for misdiagnosis or negligence, the four elements of duty, breach, causation, and damages must be met. Duty is describing as the responsibility to act as a reasonable and competent doctor would; did the doctor have the duty care for their patient? Breach, is this case defined as the failure to make the proper diagnosis where a reasonable and competent doctor would have; did they breach their duty to care for their patient adequately? For causation, one must show that the injury or death was directly caused by the misdiagnosis. Finally, to prove damages, one must be able to show they suffered because of the misdiagnosis.
Only 1 in every 20 patients is misdiagnosed. The top five most frequently misdiagnosed illnesses are 1) Lupus is misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or rheumatoid arthritis. 2)Parkinson’s disease is misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease, essential tremor, stroke, or stress. 3)Fibromyalgia is misdiagnosed as Rheumatoid arthritis or chronic fatigue syndrome. 4) Lyme disease is misdiagnosed as the flu, meningitis, depression, or mononucleosis. 5) Multiple sclerosis is misdiagnosed as a viral infection, lupus, Alzheimer’s, or bipolar disorder.