What Is the Difference Between a Missed Diagnosis and a Misdiagnosis?

When diagnosing a patient’s condition, doctors must perform a comprehensive medical exam, order the appropriate diagnostic tests, and report the results to the patient in a timely manner. If a doctor fails to accurately diagnose a patient, the patient can suffer from a worsening condition and may incur additional damages later on.

However, there is a difference between a misdiagnosis and a missed diagnosis. If you plan to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a negligent health care professional, it is important to understand what these terms mean.

What Is a Misdiagnosis?

A misdiagnosis occurs when you go to the doctor and he or she incorrectly diagnoses your medical condition. As a result, you do not receive the treatment you need, and your condition can worsen over time. In cases involving life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer, a misdiagnosis can cause the disease to progress and become more difficult to treat.

When you actually receive an accurate diagnosis, you will need to receive additional medical treatment that may be more intensive than what you would have received if the doctor had diagnosed you correctly. In addition, you may have adverse reactions or side effects to the unnecessary treatment your doctor previously prescribed, leading to additional complications.

What Is a Missed Diagnosis?

Although misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis sound very similar, they refer to different acts of negligence. Whereas a misdiagnosis involves diagnosing one condition as another, missed diagnosis involves a complete failure to diagnose any condition at all. In some cases, the doctor may not diagnose the condition under a later date.

If you experienced a missed diagnosis, your doctor may have provided you with a clean bill of health or claimed you could treat your symptoms at home, such as indigestion. In these cases, you leave the hospital or clinic without receiving the treatment you need. Like misdiagnosis cases, your condition can worsen without proper medical attention.

How to Prove a Diagnostic Error Lawsuit

Any diagnostic error can cause severe harm to a patient, from the need for additional medical care to lifelong physical complications. By filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you can recover compensation for the losses you suffered due to your doctor’s negligence. However, you will need to prove four elements to successfully establish your doctor’s liability.

To establish that the doctor in your claim breached his or her duty of care, you must prove that a reasonably prudent and similarly trained medical professional would have diagnosed your condition correctly. If you have a very rare condition and your doctor followed the steps that any other professional would have taken, you may not have grounds for a lawsuit, even if he or she was incorrect.

If you are unsure whether your case qualifies for a lawsuit, speak to a Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can evaluate available evidence and speak to medical experts, helping you identify your optimal path to compensation.