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Misdiagnosed patient in hospital bed. | Colling Gilbert Wright

Is Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice?

Diagnostic errors are common mistakes medical providers make, but is misdiagnosis medical malpractice? When healthcare providers make mistakes, it often leads to the question of whether or not their actions—or inactions—constitute medical malpractice. The answer is that it depends on the situation. Sometimes, mistakes are reasonable, while other times, they are inexcusable.

Diagnostic mistakes are related to the diagnosis of a condition. Proper diagnosis is a pivotal component of a provider’s job. After all, the only way to treat a condition correctly is if you first correctly identify the condition. Should you believe you have suffered injuries due to a misdiagnosis, taking a closer look at what it is, the various forms it can take, and whether or not it is considered malpractice could be helpful.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to the medical malpractice attorneys at Colling Gilbert Wright. Call us today at (407) 712-7300 to schedule a FREE case evaluation. Is misdiagnosis medical malpractice? We can help you determine if it is in your case.

What Is Misdiagnosis?

Misdiagnosis occurs when a healthcare provider fails to properly identify a medical condition. For instance, a patient may be diagnosed with an anxiety attack when they are actually having a heart attack. When a patient is diagnosed with the wrong condition, the consequences can be extremely serious—even fatal.

According to WebMD, misdiagnosis is most often related to heart attack, cancer, and infections, which shows just how dangerous misdiagnosis can be. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis is more common than most people realize. Per WebMD, 795,000 people each year fall victim to misdiagnosis, and according to Healthline, it leads to 40,000–80,000 deaths annually.

Read More: New Statistics on Diagnostic Errors

What Is the Difference Between Misdiagnosis & Missed Diagnosis?

The term misdiagnosis can often be used as a blanket term to encapsulate all of the different types of diagnostic errors. However, in legal scenarios, it is important to understand the difference between these terms.

While misdiagnosis refers to a patient’s medical condition being incorrectly diagnosed by a provider, a missed diagnosis refers to not diagnosing any condition when a condition exists. Missed diagnosis is also referred to as “failure to diagnose.”

The different types of medical diagnostic errors include:

  • Misdiagnosis: A wrong or inaccurate diagnosis. For instance, when someone is diagnosed with the wrong condition.
  • Delayed Diagnosis: A late or delayed diagnosis. For instance, when a healthcare provider fails to diagnose a condition as soon as they should have.
  • Missed Diagnosis: No diagnosis is made when a condition exists. For instance, a patient goes to the doctor with symptoms and is told they are “fine,” but it is later found they have a medical condition.
  • Failure to Detect Complications to an Existing Diagnosis: The patient has a correct diagnosis, but the healthcare provider fails to properly recognize additional factors impacting or complicating the condition.

Ultimately, diagnostic errors can take many forms. Therefore, working with an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney who understands what qualifies as a viable malpractice claim can be so valuable.

Is Misdiagnosis Considered Medical Malpractice?

Is misdiagnosis medical malpractice? Yes and no. Misdiagnosis in and of itself does not constitute medical malpractice; however, it can ultimately be the reason that medical malpractice takes place.

For example, if a doctor incorrectly diagnoses an allergic reaction as a stomach bug, in many cases, this may not result in injuries or damages. Even if the patient receives the wrong medication to treat their condition, chances are the misdiagnosis will not lead to a medical malpractice claim.

On the other hand, what if a patient sees a doctor about various symptoms that are unknowingly caused by cancer, and the doctor misdiagnoses it as an infection? Then, there is a high likelihood that the misdiagnosis will result in serious consequences. The patient will not be able to begin treatment as soon as they should, which could worsen their condition considerably and potentially result in their death. In this case, there is a much greater chance that the misdiagnosis would lead to a medical malpractice claim.

Can You Sue a Doctor Who Misdiagnosed You?

Yes, you have a right to pursue compensation against the doctor and/or healthcare organization responsible for your misdiagnosis, provided a few things are true:

  • You suffered damages as a result of the misdiagnosis.
  • The doctor had the opportunity to provide a proper diagnosis.
  • The statute of limitations has not elapsed.

In Florida, you only have 2 years from when you discovered medical malpractice took place—and up to 4 years total from the incident—to file a lawsuit for a medical malpractice claim. If you attempt to file after this period, there is little chance you will be able to obtain compensation for your damages.

How Do You Prove Misdiagnosis?

Ultimately, proving that misdiagnosis took place is only one part of a medical malpractice claim. You must be able to fulfill what is called the “standard of proof,” made up of four distinct elements, to win compensation.

Patient-Provider Relationship

You must be able to establish that you or your loved one had an established patient relationship with the healthcare provider.

Failure to Uphold the Standard of Care

You must then prove that the provider failed to uphold the standard of care expected in patient-provider relationships. In this case, that means they failed to properly diagnose you.

Injuries Suffered

You have to show that the provider’s misdiagnosis directly resulted in injuries, whether that be not treating a condition as soon as it should have been treated or making an existing condition worse.


Finally, you must prove that your injuries resulted in damages. Damages in a misdiagnosis case can include medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, loss of earning capacity, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

It’s important to note that not all mistakes by medical providers are considered malpractice. You must show that they acted in a negligent, careless way that breached the standard of care they owed you.

Read More: Which Element of Malpractice Is Hardest To Prove?

Do I Need an Orlando Medical Malpractice Attorney?

Medical malpractice claims involving misdiagnosis are often highly complex cases that require abundant experience, insight, knowledge, and resources. It can be difficult to prove that a mistake reached the level of malpractice, requiring a thorough investigation to review all available medical documentation.

Further, the healthcare provider’s insurance company will put significant effort into fighting your claim. They may offer you a small settlement but are unlikely to offer you the settlement you need and deserve without a fight.

For most, doing all of this without the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney simply isn’t practical, and the stakes are too high. Working with a lawyer will not only take the burden off your plate, it will give you the best chance of recovering the compensation you deserve for what you have suffered.

Contact Colling Gilbert Wright Today!

At Colling Gilbert Wright, we understand the frustration, confusion, and pain that can come with a misdiagnosis claim. We are committed to pursuing justice for those who have suffered damages due to the negligence of a healthcare provider. We don’t seek a quick settlement—we seek a fair settlement, and we’ll be here with you each step of the way.

The question “Is misdiagnosis medical malpractice?” hinges on the standard of care provided and the impact of the error on your health. If you believe you have a medical malpractice claim due to a medical professional’s misdiagnosis, get in touch with us for legal support today. You can contact us online for a FREE case evaluation. Our malpractice lawyers are proud to serve our neighbors in Orlando and throughout Florida.

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