Going to the doctor is stressful, even in the best of circumstances. When we seek medical attention, we place our lives in the hands of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. We trust that as professionals, they will provide us with the diagnosis and medical attention that we need to ensure our health and safety. It is no secret that serious harm can result when a medical condition is misdiagnosed or completely missed. When the wrong diagnosis is made, valuable time for treatment can be lost, resulting in more severe injury or even death, depending on the medical condition. This article will discuss what medical misdiagnosis is, its effects, and what you can do if you have been the victim of medical misdiagnosis.
West Virginia Medical Misdiagnosis Representation
You are not alone if you have been the victim of medical misdiagnosis. As discussed above, it can be particularly devastating to find out that you have been given the incorrect diagnosis when you have placed your trust in a medical professional. In some circumstances, the stakes are minimal, with little harm posed by an incorrect diagnosis. Depending on the severity and type of medical issue, every moment counts.
A misdiagnosis may result in ineffective treatment or treatment that causes your condition to worsen. The delay in effective treatment could lead to permanent physical injury or even death. When this happens, it is vital that you hire an experienced medical misdiagnosis attorney to help you. A qualified medical malpractice attorney understands the law and the medical malpractice claims process to help you hold those responsible for your injury accountable. When you need professional representation for your medical misdiagnosis, Salango Law is here to help. To learn more or schedule your initial case consultation, call (304) 342-0512 or visit us on our website today.
Medical misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor or other medical professional identifies the incorrect medical issue when diagnosing a patient. While diagnosing the wrong medical condition might not seem serious, the effects can be disastrous. For example, a patient visits their doctor with abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and other associated symptoms. Abdominal pain and loss of appetite are common symptoms of various other medical issues, some minor and others severe. Generally, the doctor will perform tests and examine the patient using their medical knowledge and expertise. In this case, the doctor diagnoses the patient with depression. As a result, the doctor prescribes anti-depressants and diet changes.
After a month, the patient continues to experience these symptoms, which have worsened. The doctor performs additional tests to identify the cause of the patient’s persistent symptoms. After several tests, the doctor determines that the patient has stage two pancreatic cancer. Even in the best circumstances, pancreatic cancer is difficult to beat. The overall pancreatic cancer lifecycle lasts about a year from stage one to stage four. Because the cancer is aggressive and often fatal, identifying and seeking treatment early increases the chances of survival. Due to the doctor’s misdiagnosis, the patient has lost a precious month they could have used to treat and fight the cancer.
Against all odds, the patient successfully completes treatment; the cancer is gone. However, because the cancer was not identified earlier, the patient had to undergo additional treatment, costing them significantly more money. Additionally, the patient suffered extreme symptoms due to delayed treatment. In a case like this, the patient may be entitled to compensation for the extra money they had to spend on treatment and the pain and suffering they endured because of the delayed diagnosis.
While the above scenario is more serious, misdiagnosis can occur with any medical issue. If you have experienced some type of injury because of a misdiagnosis, monetary or physically, you may be entitled to compensation.
Proving A West Virginia Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Through A Medical Malpractice Attorney
To prove a misdiagnosis case in West Virginia, you must establish the following:
- The doctor owed you a duty of care because of the doctor-patient relationship between you;
- Your doctor failed to meet the medical standard of care; and
- As a result of your doctor’s failure to meet the medical standard of care, you suffered harm.
With a medical malpractice claim, you must prove—usually through expert testimony—the medical standard of care that your doctor should have met (what a competent doctor in that field would have done) and how your doctor failed to meet that standard. Proving that your doctor failed to meet the standard of care (also known as medical negligence) involves showing how your doctor should have acted while diagnosing you and how their actions were insufficient to meet the standard of care. To establish a viable claim for medical misdiagnosis, you must prove that there was more than just a misdiagnosis, but that the misdiagnosis resulted from your doctor’s negligence.
Causes Of Medical Misdiagnosis And Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions
Several factors can cause medical misdiagnosis. Conditions may be misdiagnosed due to doctor error. Whether the error is negligent or not, the correct diagnosis might be missed if a doctor does not do their job.
Additionally, conditions may be misdiagnosed due to the symptoms a patient presents. Many illnesses share the same general symptoms, but every person presents symptoms differently. As a result, some medical conditions are more often misdiagnosed than others. Commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions include:
- Coronary artery disease;
- Kidney disease;
- Thyroid disorder;
- Heart attacks; and
West Virginia Medical Misdiagnosis Damages
Economic damages are those damages—usually monetary—that you have spent because of your injury. These damages may also include the value of opportunities or abilities that you have lost due to injury. In terms of medical misdiagnosis, some of the most common economic damage types include compensation for medical bills, loss of earning capacity, lost income, and out-of-pocket costs. Economic damages amounts are dependent on the unique facts of your case. For example, you may be awarded the cost of your medical bills for treating the misdiagnosed medical condition.
Noneconomic damages are generally compensation for the impact the misdiagnosis has had on your daily life. For example, you may be awarded noneconomic damages for loss of enjoyment, worsening of prior injuries, pain and suffering, and more. The amount of noneconomic damages you receive will vary depending on the unique circumstances of your case. It is difficult to calculate a specific monetary value on noneconomic damages because these types usually do not have an assigned value.
For example, it is easy to determine medical costs because the hospital or treating organization calculates the value of your care or treatment. On the other hand, consider noneconomic damage like losing your sight. While losing your sight is devastating, placing a specific value on that harm is challenging because sight does not have a generally accepted monetary value, and its value differs from person to person. When determining noneconomic damages, your attorney and the court rely on factors like the severity of the injury and its impact to establish value.
Punitive damages are those damages awarded against the doctor for particularly egregious conduct. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in medical misdiagnosis cases. Still, they may be granted by the court to punish those doctors who have acted maliciously or intentionally to harm their patients.
Damage Compensation Caps
Some states, like West Virginia, have passed laws that limit the amount I have damages you can receive in a medical malpractice case. The damage caps limit how much a doctor may be required to pay a patient because damages can be significant and otherwise unlimited. Damage caps on medical malpractice and misdiagnosis claims are controversial because plaintiffs may not be able to receive the entire amount of damages they have actually incurred if they exceed the cap.
Noneconomic damages are limited to $250,000 in West Virginia. Noneconomic damages are limited because they often are more challenging to determine, which might result in higher or less predictable damage amounts. You may receive up to $500,000 in noneconomic damages if you sustain a catastrophic injury or wrongful death resulting from the misdiagnosis. Catastrophic injuries include permanent disabilities, scarring, serious disfigurement, or other serious injuries. Economic damages, however, are not capped because those damages are easier to calculate.
Punitive damages are subject to a $500,000 cap. The West Virginia rule states that the plaintiff cannot receive more than four times the compensatory damage award or up to $500,000.
Experienced Medical Misdiagnosis Attorney In West Virginia
If you have been the victim of medical misdiagnosis, you must protect your rights and interests. Depending on your misdiagnosed condition, you may have experienced severe pain and suffering, additional injury, and increased medical costs due to your doctor’s negligence. Medical misdiagnosis cases are challenging as they involve serious medical issues and calculations that are often difficult to determine. An experienced medical misdiagnosis can help you determine the compensation that you deserve and hold those responsible for your injury accountable. Salango Law misdiagnosis attorneys are ready to represent you. To learn more or schedule your initial case consultation, call (304) 342-0512 or visit us on our website today.