Misdiagnosis is a form of medical malpractice. To prove medical malpractice, a plaintiff in Texas must prove that the medical provider acted or failed to act below the standard of care, which is defined by how a practitioner in the same specialty would have behaved under the same or similar circumstances. Some conditions are more commonly misdiagnosed than others.
Thyroid disease is one example of a disease that is often misdiagnosed because symptoms of the condition can mimic other health conditions. Thyroid problems may cause mental health issues, fatigue and constipation. These symptoms may develop gradually, which contributes to misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis of a thyroid condition can lead to other problems if the disease is left untreated such as weakened bones.
Lyme disease is another example of a commonly misdiagnosed condition. It is caused by tick bites and is often missed because some of the symptoms such as sleep disturbances and mood changes may be mistaken for a mental health condition. If doctors fail to properly diagnose lyme disease, they may fail to treat it appropriately, which can lead to a worsened condition for the patient over time.
Cancer is a third condition that is frequently misdiagnosed. When doctors miss a cancer diagnosis, the patient faces a far worse prognosis than he or she would have faced if the cancer had been caught earlier.
A person who believes they may have experienced a misdiagnosis should consider getting a second opinion from another specialist and possibly consulting an attorney. An attorney may be able to prove that a medical provider committed medical malpractice if standard tests and exams would have led to a correct diagnosis. For example, if a doctor failed to order a chest x-ray when a patient complained of symptoms consistent with lung cancer and an x-ray would have most likely led to an earlier diagnosis of the condition, the doctor may be liable for medical malpractice.
A plaintiff’s damages in a medical malpractice case based on misdiagnosis will depend on how the misdiagnosis caused the patient harm or led to a worsened condition. If failure to diagnose a condition led to a patient’s death and an earlier correct diagnosis would have most likely resulted in a cure with proper treatment, the medical provider who misdiagnosed the condition may be liable for damages related to the patient’s death.