If your baby’s doctor made an error and did not find an illness that was affecting your newborn, you may be wondering if you can sue a doctor for failure to diagnose. You have the right to seek compensation for this error, as long as you can show that the mistake led to additional injuries for the baby.
This error would fit under the designation of medical malpractice, which allows victims to bring a claim against the doctor who made the mistake, seeking to receive compensation for the baby’s pain and suffering and medical bills.
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Proving That a Doctor Failed to Properly Diagnose
A recent National Academy of Medicine study showed that about 5 percent of adults seeking outpatient care receive a misdiagnosis each year.
Misdiagnosis in children sometimes occurs because the doctors treating the kids or babies do not have significant experience treating children. Symptoms that could indicate a certain illness for an adult may require a different diagnosis for a child.
Proving a Diagnosis Error
One of the first things you need to prove before you can bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor who treated your baby is that the doctor made a misdiagnosis. Some of the ways a doctor could make a mistake that shows a failure to diagnose include:
- Not running tests: the doctor does not run all of the tests required to determine the exact illness or condition the baby could have.
- Not asking a specialist: the doctor does not consult with a specialist to help him or her come up with the most accurate possible diagnosis.
- Misinterpreting data: the doctor does not read test results correctly or receives incorrect data from the testing facility, resulting in a misdiagnosis.
- Failing to follow up: the doctor does not recheck the patient after the initial diagnosis, looking for additional symptoms or information that could cause him or her to change the diagnosis to reflect the new information.
- Ignoring symptoms: a doctor makes a diagnosis based on a quick examination, ignoring other symptoms that could lead to a different diagnosis.
Proving Medical Malpractice
Once you are able to show that the doctor made an error in diagnosing the baby, you then must be able to prove three other steps to show medical malpractice occurred in your situation, including:
- Relationship: the doctor and your family had a relationship in treating the baby.
- Not following proper procedure: the doctor made a decision that another doctor in the same situation would not have made.
- Causing injury: the doctor’s negligence resulted in injury to the patient.
The Criteria That Constitutes Negligence
Ultimately, the doctor owes a duty of care to each of his or her patients, whether the patient is an adult, a baby, or someone in between. If the doctor behaves negligently, causing an illness to become worse or creating a new injury or condition, a medical malpractice lawsuit is a possibility.
For negligence to have occurred in your case, you just have to show that the doctor’s error could have been avoided had he or she taken a different path in attempting to treat your baby. Negligence does not need to involve a purposeful act on the part of a doctor.
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The Dangers of a Misdiagnosis to the Patient
Proving additional harm to the patient is part of filing a successful medical malpractice lawsuit. When the doctor fails to diagnose an illness in your baby, there are multiple ways this error can cause additional harm for the newborn, including:
- Improper treatment: the error in diagnosis could cause the doctor to undertake an aggressive treatment schedule or to prescribe harsh medications that are not safe for the baby, potentially causing additional harm.
- Delaying treatment: the doctor does not catch a certain illness because of the misdiagnosis, which leads to a significant delay in the treatment of the illness, potentially leading to further complications down the road.
- No treatment: the doctor does not know the baby is ill because of the misdiagnosis, which means a condition goes untreated, resulting in permanent harm.
Protecting Your Baby’s Health
Doctors have a duty to protect the health of their patients as much as possible. This duty includes taking the time to properly diagnose any illnesses or conditions. If this does not happen, you can sue a doctor for failure to diagnose.
You must follow all statutes of limitations in your state, and you must show that the doctor behaved negligently.
If you are unsure whether your case matches these criteria, call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529 today. Our team will study the facts in your case during a free review, helping you make the right decision about whether to move forward.