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San Jose Misdiagnosis Attorney

Patients cannot expect a doctor to make the correct diagnosis the very first time, 100% of the time. They can, however, expect the doctor to perform his or her duties within reasonable standards of care for the medical industry. If a reasonable and prudent doctor would have made the correct diagnosis in similar circumstances, a doctor that failed to do so (resulting in patient harm) may be guilty of medical malpractice. As an injured patient, talk to the San Jose medical malpractice lawyers at Henshaw & Henry, PC for legal counsel in San Jose.

What Are a Doctor’s Duties?

Even highly competent and careful doctors sometimes make misdiagnoses. As long as the doctor performed his or her duties according to accepted standards, it is unlikely that the misdiagnosis will qualify as medical malpractice. Instead, the wrong diagnosis must have come from some act of negligence or recklessness on the doctor’s part. There is something called “differential diagnosis,” or a systemic method doctors should use to diagnose a disease or condition in a patient. According to differential diagnosis, a doctor’s duties are as follows:

  1. Preliminary evaluation of the patient.
  2. List diagnoses in order of probability.
  3. Further medical observation to test each diagnosis.
  4. Ask the patient questions about symptoms.
  5. Examine the patient’s medical history.
  6. Order tests and accurately interpret them.
  7. Refer the patient to a specialist.
  8. Rule out potential diagnoses during this process.
  9. Ultimately narrow down possibilities to the most likely one.
  10. Diagnosing the condition or illness. 

A doctor may have acted outside accepted standards of care during diagnosis if he or she did not perform all or at least most of the above-mentioned steps during the diagnostic process. Common acts of malpractice that result in misdiagnosis are not including a condition on the differential diagnosis list when a competent doctor would have, failing to perform appropriate tests, and misreading the test results. Evidence of the doctor’s negligence during diagnosis is critical to the success of a personal injury claim.

Do You Have the Elements of a Malpractice Claim?

Establishing that a doctor-patient relationship existed is the first necessary element in a misdiagnosis claim. This may require paperwork showing the defendant was, in fact, your healthcare provider at the time of the alleged mistake. The second element is proof of a breach of duty, as described above. Third, the misdiagnosis must have caused patient harm such as a worsened medical condition. Finally, the injured party must show that the doctor’s negligence was the proximate cause of his or her harm.

It can sometimes be difficult to show that the misdiagnosis harmed the patient. In fast-moving conditions that depend on swift action, such as cancer, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can be fatal. Other conditions, however, may not have changed significantly even with a correct diagnosis.

It is up to the plaintiff to prove all four elements of his or her claim in front of a judge or jury. An experienced misdiagnosis attorney in San Jose can make this process much less daunting. To find out if you have the elements for a claim, contact our firm online or call (408) 533-1075.