Liability in DC Medical Malpractice Misdiagnosis Cases 

Liability in DC medical malpractice misdiagnosis cases can be complex. There are certain standard treatments in medicine. A classic example is when somebody is coughing up blood. If somebody comes into the doctor’s office complaining of chest pain and coughing up blood, the doctor should order an X-ray. A breach of the standard of care is when the doctor does not order a chest X-ray.

An example of misdiagnosis is when somebody comes into the doctor’s office complaining of stomach pain. The doctor looks at their stomach and diagnoses the person with a stomach ache or constipation and it turns out they have a bowel obstruction. This is medical malpractice misdiagnosis. For more information on determining liability with these cases, contact a professional attorney.

DC Medical Malpractice Misdiagnosis Cases

Doctors use their knowledge of medicine and analysis of the chief complaint to make a diagnosis. A person with generalized stomach pain, fever, and vomiting might have a stomach bug. However, they might also have appendicitis. The doctor can order an ultrasound of the person’s appendix to see if there are problems. When there is tenderness or the appendix is inflamed and the person has appendicitis, that is a surgical emergency.

When the doctor did not order an ultrasound or scan the appendix when the complaints are consistent with appendicitis and a stomach ache, they need to be able to see conclusively that this is not appendicitis before they send the patient home. If they diagnose a stomach ache when the person has appendicitis and the appendix ruptures, there can be severe, collateral organ damage that could result in medical malpractice. This is another example in which liability can be determined in a DC medical malpractice misdiagnosis case.

Doctors at Fault

The big question in a case is what did the doctor know and when did they know it? If there is a reason to get an X-ray or a CAT scan or take a test and the doctor fails to order those tests and harm comes to the person as a result of that failure, the doctor could be held liable.

If a person goes in with complaints that are consistent with lung cancer and the doctor does not do anything to find the lung cancer, they can be held at fault for not doing the right thing. The doctor must order X-rays, a pulmonology study, and a pulmonary function test to identify the problems in the lungs. If there is no documentation to show the doctor ran the appropriate tests, they could have a negligence charge. This could determine liability in a DC medical malpractice misdiagnosis case.

Procedural Errors vs. Misdiagnosis

A prescription error or misdiagnosis is a longer issue than a procedural error. A procedural error during the surgery where something went wrong is called iatrogenic injuries. The doctor caused the injuries but it does not necessarily mean that there was negligence.

For example, the gallbladder has an extrahepatic duct that is attached to the liver next to the gallbladder. The risk of removing the gallbladder is that the extrahepatic duct might be lacerated because it is so close. A defense lawyer would argue that this is a risk of the procedure. If a doctor examines a person to determine whether that person has appendicitis and they do nothing to rule out appendicitis, that is a diagnosis error.

Misdiagnosis and Surgery

During surgery, a person can get a collateral organ injury. No one will dispute when a doctor hits a collateral organ during a surgery that it may or may not be negligence. Whereas, a misdiagnosis case involves questions of whether the doctor should have made the diagnosis and why they should have made the diagnosis. With a surgical error, the question is whether it was a risk in the procedure. When the surgeon leaves a surgical pad inside the patient, they have a tough time claiming that that was not negligence. Talk to an attorney for more on liability in DC medical malpractice misdiagnosis cases.