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Can I Sue an ER for Misdiagnosis?

August 18, 2020


Although we expect that doctors will always figure out what’s wrong with us when we don’t feel well, doctors are still human and can still make mistakes when diagnosing a patient. This type of medical error is called misdiagnosis (or sometimes called delayed diagnosis if the doctor fails to reach a diagnosis in a timely manner, or failure-to-diagnose if the doctor never reaches the right diagnosis). A doctor’s misdiagnosis may constitute medical malpractice, and entitle the patient to seek financial compensation for harm and damages that result from the misdiagnosis.

What Is a Misdiagnosis?

A misdiagnosis means that your doctor arrived at the wrong diagnosis of your condition. A doctor may misdiagnose a patient because the doctor fails to take a proper medical history from the patient, fails to order tests, misinterprets the results of tests, or fails to consult with specialist physicians. A misdiagnosis can lead to all sorts of harm for a patient, including:

  • Allowing your condition to worsen, causing you to suffer more
  • Delaying the correct diagnosis, potentially requiring more extensive, invasive, and/or painful treatment
  • Resulting in your condition becoming untreatable and/or fatal

A misdiagnosis often results from a physician’s failure to act according to the applicable standard of care, or the actions that another medical professional of similar training and experience would have taken under the same circumstances. When a misdiagnosis leads to a patient suffering injury or harm and causing him or her to incur compensable damages, the patient may have a medical malpractice claim.

Common Examples of Misdiagnoses

Although doctors correctly diagnose the vast majority of patients they see, misdiagnoses can and do happen. When a patient’s condition goes undiagnosed for too long, the patient’s condition may worsen, or the patient may be subjected to unnecessary treatments if given the wrong diagnosis. 

Conditions and illnesses that are frequently the subject of misdiagnosis errors include:

  • Asthma, often misdiagnosed as recurring bronchitis
  • Heart attack, often misdiagnosed as a panic attack or indigestion
  • Lyme disease, often misdiagnosed as influenza, mononucleosis, or chronic depression
  • Parkinson’s disease, often misdiagnosed as stress-induced tremors, after-effects of stroke, or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Lupus, often misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or chronic fatigue syndrome

What to Do If You Think You Have Been Misdiagnosed

If you don’t start to feel better even after following your physician’s instructions, or your condition worsens, or if you just feel off, you should be proactive in your care. If new symptoms have arisen, you can notify your doctor of those symptoms (which may lead them to the correct diagnosis), or you can choose to seek a second opinion from another physician. 

Once you establish that you have been misdiagnosed, you need to act quickly to preserve your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation for damages that you’ve suffered as a result of your misdiagnosis. In New Jersey, you only have two years from the date of accrual of your claim in which to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice; a medical malpractice claim typically accrues when you know (or should know) that your harm and damages were caused by your medical provider’s negligence.

You should speak to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible after you discover that you or a loved one have been misdiagnosed. An attorney can begin investigating your case to determine whether you have a viable malpractice claim.

Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Misdiagnosis Case in New Jersey

Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in New Jersey? Then you need to talk to an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Morristown misdiagnosis attorneys at Hoyt & Hoyt, PC are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout New Jersey,  including Parsippany, Mount Olive, Rockaway, and Roxbury. Call us today at (973) 292-2299 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 67 East Park Place, 5th Floor, Morristown, NJ 07960, and we also have offices in New Brunswick.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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