While there are plenty of different reasons that medical professionals can be sued for malpractice, a study published in October 2013 by Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that the most common malpractice accusation had to do with missed diagnoses. The study’s leader, Dr. Gordon Schiff, examined 550 malpractice lawsuits from 2005 to 2009, all based in Massachusetts, and found that 190 of the lawsuits dealt with a cancer misdiagnosis, and an additional 108 claims said that a doctor missed either heart disease, blood vessel diseases, infections, or strokes.

How is Misdiagnosis Considered Malpractice?

Malpractice is defined as something that happens when a doctor’s negligence causes injury to a patient. When a doctor’s diagnosis leads to incorrect treatment, delayed treatment, or no treatment at all, a patient’s condition can worsen significantly. If the condition is serious enough, the misdiagnosis can cause the patient’s death. For example, if cancer is not diagnosed as early as possible, it could spread and become untreatable.  In order for malpractice to be proven, it must be shown that a doctor-patient relationship existed, and that the doctor was negligent in some way and did not provide skillful or competent treatment. Finally, it must be proven that the negligence was what caused the patient’s injury or condition.

What Can You Do?

If you or someone you love has been involved in a case that you think counts as malpractice, you should contact a lawyer. Malpractice cases often hinge on proving that the doctor was negligent, so just because a diagnosis was missed or incorrectly given, that does not necessarily mean that the doctor was being negligent. A medical malpractice lawyer will have the experience necessary to examine all aspects of your situation to potentially build a case. Keep as detailed of an account as you can about the case, including all of the care you received from the physician you are claiming malpractice against. The more details you have, the stronger a potential case can be.