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What to Do If a Doctor’s Misdiagnosis Causes Injury

You went to the doctor because you didn’t feel well. Unfortunately, the doctor ended up making you feel worse because they misdiagnosed you.

Not only do you feel violated because you trusted your doctor to provide you the utmost care, but now you are dealing with an injury because of their incompetence or negligence. And now, you have to take time off from work to deal with it and spend money out of pocket to pay for additional, otherwise unnecessary, treatment. It’s just not fair that you have to go through this because of a doctor’s misdiagnosis or mistake.

While you may feel powerless now, there are steps you can take to get compensation for your injuries as well as the time you lost from your job and any other damage you went through because of this whole situation. First, you need to understand the legalities at hand for medical malpractice and whom you should contact to ensure that you get the necessary compensation.

Suing a Doctor for Medical Malpractice in California

 Medical negligence can include not properly diagnosing a patient or failure to diagnose, both of which could result in serious injury or even death to the patient.

Some common types of medical malpractice revolving around misdiagnosis include putting a patient through aggressive treatment they didn’t need or doing it too late, or performing surgery that wasn’t called for at the moment, or the wrong surgery for the condition. Your doctor might have forgotten to follow up to see how your treatment was going or your condition progressing, or referred you to the wrong specialist. Maybe they didn’t listen to you thoroughly and were rushing through your appointment – or they didn’t believe you – and this led to an error. You may have been misdiagnosed with (or they missed) cancer, a stroke, a heart attack or asthma, or something else, which led you to the wrong treatment.

For instance, maybe you were having a heart attack but the doctor labeled it a panic attack, so all you did was get a pill to “relax.” Then, you suffered another heart attack and had to go in for surgery. Maybe you had bronchitis or pneumonia, but the doctor said it was asthma, and you went on strong medicine for asthma that had negative side effects, meanwhile failing to treat the actual underlying condition.

 If a doctor’s misdiagnosis caused you injury, then you could make a claim against the doctor.  Hospitals may employ doctors as independent contractors, so they may be shielded from liability.

To successfully sue a doctor for medical malpractice, you have to show that they did not meet the required medical standard of care that is expected of healthcare professionals under the circumstances presented.  This is not easy.

Proving a Medical Standard of Care Violation

 It’s tough to win a medical malpractice suit because you have to prove that the doctor was acting below the standard of case, and this specifically caused you harm. It can be hard to show that you would have been fine if you’d been diagnosed with cancer earlier, for example.

Also, other health care professionals involved in your treatment may have messed up, leading the doctor to a misdiagnosis because of wrong information. What if the nurse didn’t correctly take your blood pressure? What if the lab didn’t process or failed to report your urine sample in the right way? What if the prescription drug company didn’t formulate the medicine properly?

In a court of law, experts will be required to testify what the medical standard of care is supposed to be in a certain situation. For example, if you went to the doctor and said you were experiencing migraines and tingling sensations, they might have given you aspirin and sent you home; or you may have been having a stroke and they should have put you on stroke medication and hospitalized you.

If the expert – usually a doctor who works in the same field as your doctor – would have done the same as your doctor, then your doctor was probably following the medical standard of care. However, if the other doctor would have put you on a different medication and/or testifies that the treatment given would not be advisable, then your doctor may not have been carrying out the medical standard of care.  These are usually complex and very involved issues.  They require experience experts and experienced lawyers.

Documenting Your Case

 Before going ahead with a medical malpractice suit, we need to gather evidence. Collect any medical records you have and write down what the doctor told you and how you were treated. Make sure you take note of what happened when you took the wrong medicine or went through improper treatment. Get information from any doctors you went to for a second or third opinion. Go through your paystubs and determine how much money you lost by having to lose work, and gather receipts for treatment you paid for to deal with your misdiagnosis.  Keep a diary of your troubles due to this.

You should keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations (time limit) on a medical malpractice suit. In many situations, you need to act immediately to ensure you can legally file claim. If you wait at all, you may not be allowed to make a claim.

Finding a Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Help You

 A medical malpractice case is tough to win.  The law usually favors doctors. Jurors, just like the rest of us, want to believe doctors do right by us in every instance.  Again, it’s difficult to prove that something was specifically your doctor’s fault. You’ll need an experienced and successful medical malpractice lawyer to help you get the justice you deserve for the pain and hardship you went through.

Your medical malpractice lawyer will know the ins and outs of medical malpractice, can assist you in getting your records, can help get you care even before you reach a settlement and will know what to do so that you are compensated for any harm you suffered and for medical bills and time you had to take off work. They will be able to find a doctor who will give an expert opinion and evaluate whether or not your doctor followed the medical standard of care. They will pay attention to the critical legalities that could help you win your case.

We recommend you shouldn’t fight a medical malpractice case on your own. Instead, reach out to professionals such as Heiting & Irwin, who have years of experience getting their clients the settlements they deserve for medical malpractice cases. They can step in and help get what you need to keep living a productive, healthy, life going forward. Contact Heiting & Irwin today for your free medical malpractice consultation.

James Heiting

The only past President of the State Bar of California ever elected from the Inland Empire, James Heiting handles civil litigation matters throughout California, recovering over $300 million for clients, dealing with wrongful death, serious injury, professional malpractice and transportation accidents. Also past President of Riverside’s County Bar, his firm has served the Inland Empire for over 30 years. View Attorney James Otto Heiting's Attorney Bio Here.

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