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Learn about the legal grounds for lawsuits based on misdiagnoses

Illinois residents may benefit from learning more about how missed or erroneous diagnoses may be partially rectified through filing a lawsuit. Even though physicians are trusted professionals, they are still human and susceptible to making costly mistakes. Sometimes, physician errors are related to administering the wrong treatment or existing injuries being exasperated from a lack of much-needed treatment. Medical professionals are typically held liable if a missed or delayed diagnosis causes a disease or injury to progress beyond what it normally would have if it had been properly diagnosed in a timely fashion.

Many doctors have been trained on applying a differential methodology when diagnosing health conditions. Physicians using this tactic often generate a hierarchy of various diagnoses for the unknown condition based on their probability of being the true diagnosis. When assessing malpractice by misdiagnosis, the legal main consideration is what a reasonably prudent physician would have entertained as potential causes of the condition under similar circumstances.

If a physician fails to consider a reasonable diagnosis or fails to act on one that was reasonably assessed, the physician and hospital may be liable for medical malpractice. However, it's often difficult for patients to prove that these circumstances were the cause of the medical injury since it can be difficult to determine for certain how "timely" a diagnosis would have to be in order to make a difference in the patient's condition. Often, physicians or hospitals may be able to enlist medical experts who present clinical data in an effort to refute a victim's assertions, so it's important for patients who believe their condition was made worse by a misdiagnosis to secure robust legal counsel.

Patients who suspect their medical injuries were caused or aggravated by hospital error or a misdiagnosis may be entitled to file a malpractice claim against the health care professional responsible. A lawyer could investigate a plaintiff's claim to determine its legal grounds. If the claim is strong, the lawyer could help the patient and his or her family to obtain restitution to account for the injuries suffered from the substandard medical treatment.

Source: Findlaw, "Failed/Erroneous Diagnosis and Treatment", August 27, 2014

Source: Findlaw, "Failed/Erroneous Diagnosis and Treatment", August 27, 2014

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Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Malpractice

Q: What is medical malpractice?

A: Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or hospital, whose treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care met by those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient...

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