A medical misdiagnosis can have a devastating impact on a patient and their family, often resulting in improper treatment or no treatment at all.
A misdiagnosis can lead to increased injury, disease progression, prolonged pain and suffering, and even death.
When most seek out the help of a medical professional, they do so to learn more about a condition they are experiencing and how to treat it.
The first step for any medical provider is to determine the cause of the problem. Failure to do so correctly can negate any care they provide. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a medical misdiagnosis, you may have the right to file a misdiagnosis lawsuit.
At Poulos & Coates, LLP, we have over 70 years of combined experience and are the only law firm in New Mexico dedicated to medical malpractice cases.
We proudly and compassionately represent injured patients across the state, helping them obtain the compensation they need to heal and move forward.
How Does a Medical Misdiagnosis Occur?
There are countless ways that a misdiagnosis can occur. It is important to note that in some cases, a correct diagnosis would have been very difficult to achieve even for an especially knowledgeable medical provider.
To succeed in a medical misdiagnosis lawsuit, you must be able to prove that the medical provider was negligent in their actions.
Here are some preventable errors that could lead to misdiagnosis:
- Failing to properly administer diagnostic tests;
- Failing to accurately record a full patient history;
- Failing to order appropriate tests in response to patient symptoms;
- Failing to perform a thorough physical examination;
- Failing to properly interpret the results of the tests; and
- Failing to consult with specialists when symptoms or results warrant an expert opinion.
You may also be wondering if you can sue a hospital for misdiagnosis. The answer is yes if the hospital is deemed liable for the negligent actions of their employee.
Can You Sue a Doctor for a Misdiagnosis?
A misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor or other health provider fails to properly identify a medical condition. Medical professionals generally ask patients about their symptoms and perform an exam to verify the health of the patient.
If the source of the symptoms is not evident, the medical provider may conduct additional testing or request tests be conducted by a third party to diagnose an issue.
A medical provider has a duty to take reasonable measures to diagnose a patient’s condition properly. If they fail to do so, they may be liable for medical malpractice.
A 2022 study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that as many as 7.4 million emergency room patients in the United States are misdiagnosed every year and as many as 250,000 die because of misdiagnosis.
The study does not take into account the misdiagnoses that occur in other medical facilities such as other hospital departments, physician’s offices, ambulances, medical clinics, or other places outside the emergency room.
Do You Have a Medical Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider fails to adhere to the standard of care that would have been expected from another professional with similar experience and education in the same situation.
In other words, would a similarly situated medical provider have come to the same conclusion as the misdiagnosis? If they would have correctly diagnosed the condition, the patient may have a claim for medical malpractice.
Here are the four elements that must be satisfied to have a valid misdiagnosis lawsuit.
Duty of Care
There was an actual medical provider or doctor/patient relationship. In some cases, the medical provider may not be a physician.
They may also be a nurse practitioner, diagnostic technician, or medical facility. This relationship establishes that the aforementioned duty of care is owed to the patient.
Breach of Duty
The duty of care can be breached because of the medical provider’s negligent action or inaction. For example, the medical provider may have been informed of the symptoms you were experiencing but failed to acknowledge them or follow up with additional diagnostics to understand the source of the symptoms.
Cause of Harm
The breach of the duty of care resulted in actual harm to the patient. In many cases, this is the worsening of a condition due to lack of treatment or failure to treat appropriately because of the misdiagnosis. Early or timely diagnosis can often minimize harm due to certain conditions.
Actual damage occurs when the patient suffers physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially because of the misdiagnosis. In many cases, all of these forms of damage apply, and the patient is entitled to compensation.
Compensation for Misdiagnosis Lawsuit in New Mexico
The amount of compensation you receive for your medical malpractice claim is highly dependent on the circumstances of the misdiagnosis and the severity of damage caused.
For example, if you have had costly medical procedures because of the misdiagnosis, or are unable to work, you should not have to pay those costs out of pocket.
Likewise, if the misdiagnosis has had a serious impact on your quality of life, you should be compensated for that loss. Under New Mexico law, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering are capped at $750,000, though some exceptions may apply.
Having experienced legal counsel on your side is crucial to recovering the compensation you are entitled to. You should not have to suffer for placing your health in the hands of someone who provided substandard care.
New Mexico Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
In New Mexico, you only have three years from the date of the event to file a lawsuit. This statute of limitations applies to medical providers who qualify under the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act, and is applicable even if the error was still undiscovered until after three years have passed.
Therefore, it is important to know whether a medical provider is qualified. If they are not, the statute of limitations is subject to the discovery rule, which means that the clock begins on the date you discovered or should have discovered your injury. If you wait too long, you may be barred completely from filing your claim.
How Can a Medical Misdiagnosis Lawyer Help?
An experienced misdiagnosis lawyer can help you evaluate your claim, determine the strengths of your case, and develop the best strategy to seek meaningful compensation. They can work with you to gather evidence and ensure you remain focused on your own health.
Medical providers and medical facilities often have legal representation on retainer. They expect that their errors could result in a medical malpractice claim, and their attorneys are prepared to defend them.
You do not want to take them on by yourself, nor should you risk settling for less than you rightfully deserve.
Contact a Las Cruces Medical Misdiagnosis Lawyer Today
Misdiagnosis lawsuits are complicated. At Poulos & Coates, we understand the intricacies of New Mexico medical malpractice law and how to help you receive maximum compensation for what you have been through.
Our experienced attorneys know how to handle medical malpractice claims from start to finish, helping to put our client’s minds at ease during a difficult process. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation.