What You Should Know About Misdiagnosis Cases in Virginia

One of the most common forms of medical malpractice claims is misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose. If you think you may been injured because of a negligent diagnosis, you may be wondering what can constitute a misdiagnosis claim in Virginia. The only way to know how the law applies to the specific facts of your case is to consult with a Virginia medical malpractice lawyer.

However, one of our medical malpractice attorneys answered some frequently asked questions about misdiagnosis cases in Virginia to provide a very brief overview of what these terms mean under the law, and what everyone should know about these kinds of claims.

What Does Misdiagnosis Mean In A Medical Malpractice Context?

Misdiagnosis is a pretty broad term. It essentially means that when a medical provider had the opportunity to look at the symptoms and the facts surrounding a person’s sickness or illness, they failed to properly assess the situation. A misdiagnosis doesn’t mean that they thought the person was suffering from one ailment and it turned out to be another, similar ailment. It’s more serious than that. It means that they failed to follow the proper procedure to do what are called “elimination studies.” For example, the doctor failed to properly look at test results or radiology reports and take all those things into consideration to properly apply their medical training and make a proper diagnosis. It’s more serious and more complicated than saying a person has one ailment when they’re suffering from a different one.

What Are Some Common Forms of Misdiagnosis?

Thomas Soldan: The most common form of misdiagnosis that we see on a regular basis is cancer misdiagnosis. Those are complicated situations in which attorneys need to employ medical experts in the field of oncology and cancer studies to evaluate whether a misdiagnosis has truly occurred or whether it was something that could not have been diagnosed at that time.

Certain signals tell doctors whether a cancer is more aggressive or more stable, whether it’s benign or malignant, and whether there are certain indicators of the presence of cancer versus another ailment.

One example that may not rise to the level of negligent misdiagnosis occurs whens someone is initially diagnosed with a certain strain of common infection and then it turns out to be another treatable ailment and no real damage occurs . However, when a more serious condition like cancer is either overlooked, misdiagnosed, or incorrectly identified and that error results in a complication or tragic death, you should contact an experienced Virginia malpractice attorney to help determine if you or a loved one may have been a victim of medical misdiagnosis.

What Are The First Questions You Ask In Potential Misdiagnosis Cases?

Thomas Soldan: The first thing I want to know is the timeline. I look at the chronology of when they went through medical treatment, from who examined them first and what that medical practitioner knew at that time that they examined them to what steps they took. There are certain steps that are taken from the beginning of care to the diagnosis given the present condition of the patient, and I want to know step by step what happened.

Then, I want to know how the person came to find out what their proper diagnosis should have been. I find out what steps were taken and what additional information, if any, was available to the medical provider that made the subsequent diagnosis that the initial medical provider did not have. If there is a large change, it may indicate an area of concern.

What Is The Most Common Mistake to Avoid in Misdiagnosis Cases?

Thomas Soldan: The most common mistake people make is not keeping a good record of what they said to their initial medical provider and what happened to them subsequently. That can be very difficult and no person anticipates that they’ll be a victim of medical malpractice.

They put trust in the medical community and they believe that medical malpractice will not occur. The one thing I see most often in misdiagnosis cases is that the alleged victim of a misdiagnosis has failed to keep records that could adequately support a misdiagnosis claim.

What Should Everyone Know About Misdiagnosis Cases in Virginia?

Thomas Soldan: The thing that people should be aware of is to speak to an attorney as soon as possible if they feel that this may have happened to them. An attorney can assist them in evaluating the situation and waiting too long to talk to an attorney after they feel that they’ve been injured can certainly harm their case.

Like other medical malpractice actions, information is often very time-sensitive. It often takes an extended period of time to request records and talk to parties. Medical providers are very busy, therefore it’s important to try to contact them as soon as possible.