No one is infallible however, where a person has a life his/her hands it is expected that they will do all that is require according to the standards expected to have little or no errors. It is on that basis that a person can sue for misdiagnosis because the medical practitioner showed some level of incompetence which is unacceptable. A person can sue the doctor and the hospital if the doctor is an employee of the hospital.
As this article suggests, there is not really a simple answer to whether someone can sue a doctor for misdiagnosis. There are many variables in the world of healthcare, and every situation is unique. With that said, as a patient, you do have certain legal rights when it comes to the care that you receive. Further, you do not have to simply accept that an error occurred without asking questions or learning more about protecting yourself.
As you read this, don't assume she passed because of her heart. The surgery was successful, as expected. It was the aftercare that killed her: Avoidable infections, overdose of heparin, lines becoming dislodged, a doctor collapsing her lung while removing a drain tube. It seemed endless but was only 95 days. One heart surgery with a 99.9 percent success rate and a week of recovery in the hospital turned into three heart surgeries, an exploratory abdominal surgery and seven hospital associated infections and 95 days later, her death. I wish there were a medical court (of sorts) that patients could go to without an attorney. They could file a complaint and sit in a room with the doctor, nurses, specialists and a panel of “judges” and plead their case. Ask their questions. No attorneys. No “specialists.” Just a place to get answers, and, if needed, monetary compensation. Personally, I just wanted answers.
For example, the Court of Appeals of Texas said in 2006 that the parents of a stillborn baby could sue the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office for causing mental anguish after the office allegedly lost the baby's body during an autopsy. The court said the county's relationship with the parents constituted a "special relationship" under which mental anguish damages were allowable in the absence of physical injury.
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you may wish to file a formal claim with the offending doctor’s insurance company. Certainly, the doctor may be unwilling to provide you with insurance information, or you may require the assistance of an attorney to make a claim, but in some jurisdictions (particularly those without damage caps) you may find that an insurance company is willing to negotiate a settlement prior to a formal suit being filed. The expense and potential fallout of a formal, public lawsuit is a risk insurance companies are often unwilling to take.
If the medical incident that injured you occurred at a hospital, such as with a botched surgery or a post-operative infection, then you must inform the hospital as well. This will launch an internal investigation into the incident. When you contact the hospital, you should also inform them that you want to be included in the investigation. They should contact you about providing your side of the story on the record. This can also help with later litigation as the hospital may uncover evidence during this investigation.
A large number of medical malpractice lawsuits stem from the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a medical condition, illness, or injury. When a doctor's diagnosis error leads to incorrect treatment, delayed treatment, or no treatment at all, a patient's condition can be made much worse, and they may even die. That being said, a mistake in diagnosis by itself is not enough to sustain a medical malpractice lawsuit.
This is really so painful to re-live. All of the attorneys I discussed my case with said that what was done to me was clearly negligence and that the case had merit indeed. However, the potential award would have fallen below the $250,000 mark, and to fight it would have been a gamble because jurors – for whatever reason – see physicians in a “can do no wrong” light and may decide in favor of the negligent doctor. I wanted to fight it out of principle more than anything else.
How can you tell the difference between appropriate, but unsuccessful care and medical malpractice? Ask. Ask your doctor. Get second opinions if possible. Talk to lawyers, who may have medically trained staff that can give an informed opinion, or who may have dealt with the exact same issue (or doctor) you are dealing with. Do whatever you can to attempt to allay any misgivings you have about your care. But take any opinions with a grain of salt. Some doctors simply won’t accuse a “brother physician” of making a mistake. Some malpractice attorneys will exaggerate the potential of your claim in an attempt to make money. Use your best discretion when seeking opinions on your treatment, but be diligent in the pursuit of information. Until you file a lawsuit, you are your own best advocate and investigator.