Do you believe you have been seriously harmed by a doctor’s misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose your condition? An experienced Mobile failure to diagnose condition lawyer at Lattof & Lattof, P.C. is here to help.
Contact our medical malpractice lawyers in Mobile, AL to schedule your free consultation.
How Lattof & Lattof, P.C. Can Help with Your Alabama Medical Malpractice Case
When you are left with worsened health or reduced quality of life after a physician’s mistake, you may feel like you have nowhere to turn.
At Lattof & Lattof, P.C., we understand how hopeless it can feel when the medical experts you trusted have let you down.
We believe that healthcare providers should be held accountable for their mistakes. That’s why we fight for full compensation for our clients.
Our family-run law firm has represented medical malpractice victims for over 65 years. Our personal injury lawyers in Mobile use a century of combined experience to fight for you by:
Providing Sound Legal Guidance
Medical malpractice claims are notoriously complicated. Alabama has medical malpractice laws that favor medical providers. These cases can also be very protracted. At Lattof & Lattof, P.C., you can count on strong communication with your legal team and help every step of the way.
We will help you make difficult decisions and navigate the various legal stages of your case.
Gather Evidence to Support Your Claim
Medical malpractice claims require a great deal of proof to show the extent of your injuries and how the medical provider was negligent. We will work to gather evidence such as medical records, witness statements, and expert testimony.
We will help you hire a physician with experience with the medical condition at the heart of your case. This physician will provide an opinion about what a reasonably competent doctor would have done under similar circumstances in your case. This can show how your doctor deviated from the standard of care in your case.
Negotiate on Your Behalf
After gathering evidence that strengthens your case, we will negotiate a settlement on your behalf. You should not be worried about fighting with an insurance company, dealing with lowball offers, or making statements that may harm your claim. We use decades of experience to negotiate a settlement that fairly compensates you.
What Is a Failure to Diagnose or Misdiagnosis?
Medical malpractice happens when a hospital, physician, or healthcare provider causes an injury to a patient through negligence or omission. The most common type of negligence is misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. This happens when a healthcare provider fails to correctly diagnose a condition while providing the medical standard of care.
Failure to diagnose is a diagnostic error. There are many types of diagnostic errors that may lead to a medical malpractice claim:
- Wrong diagnosis or misdiagnosis when the physician diagnoses the wrong injury or condition
- Missed diagnosis or failure to diagnose happens when the physician believes the patient is healthy, but they actually have an injury or disease that is undetected
- Delayed diagnosis when happens when there is a significant delay before the correct diagnosis is made
- Failure to recognize complications which happens when the proper diagnosis is made but factors or complications that aggravate or worsen the condition are not detected
- Failure to diagnose a related disease that usually occurs with the primary condition
- Failure to diagnose an unrelated condition
- Failure to diagnose the underlying disease which happens when the physician diagnoses a condition that is actually caused by a second, underlying condition
It’s important to understand that not all failure to diagnose cases are considered medical malpractice. To prove your claim, a Mobile failure to diagnose lawyer at Lattof & Lattof, P.C. will work to prove several aspects of your case. The physician must have acted negligently. This means failing to provide the standard of care a reasonable and competent doctor would have provided.
How Common Is a Failure to Diagnose?
When you visit an emergency room, outpatient clinic, or physician, you trust in their expertise, judgment, and knowledge. However, medical professionals are human and sometimes make mistakes. These errors can lead to serious and life-changing consequences for patients. When a physician makes a clinical mistake in judgment, does not order the correct tests, or otherwise misdiagnoses or fails to diagnose a condition, they may be held liable for their negligence.
Misdiagnosis and/or failure to diagnose is the most common and serious type of medical malpractice.
A 2013 study conducted at John Hopkins University analyzed the effect of medical errors. It found that misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose prematurely disables or kills over 100,000 people annually. When combined with other medical errors, this makes medical mistakes the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
A follow-up study in 2019 identified the three most common disease categories that are misdiagnosed. They account for 75% of all serious harm from a diagnostic error. Diagnostic mistakes that caused death or serious and permanent disability were mostly associated with cancer (37.8%), vascular events (22.8%), and infections (13.5%).
Researchers identified 15 major conditions across these categories. These conditions account for 50% of serious harm from a misdiagnosis.
- Cancer: Lung cancer, skin, prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers
- Vascular events: Stroke, heart attack, aortic aneurysm and dissection, arterial thromboembolism, and venous thromboembolism
- Infections: Sepsis, meningitis, encephalitis, spinal infection, pneumonia, and endocarditis
According to the researchers, diagnostic errors were the most common, most expensive, and most catastrophic of all medical errors. Over 71% of diagnostic mistakes happened in ambulatory settings. This includes outpatient clinics where cancer-related misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose is most common. It also includes emergency rooms where vascular events and infections can be missed.
Why Does a Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose Happen in Alabama?
There are many reasons a doctor fails to diagnose a condition or injury. The following are some of the most common reasons for a failure to diagnose in Mobile.
Failure in Clinical Judgment
The 2019 John Hopkins University found that failure of clinical judgment was the cause in over 85% of cases of misdiagnosis. Researchers stated that supporting bedside diagnostic decision-making by clinical medical professionals can help reduce cases of failure to diagnose.
Failing to Order Diagnostic Tests
A 2006 study found that failing to order the correct diagnostic test was a common breakdown in the medical diagnostic process. When the correct test such as an MRI, CAT scan, X-ray, or blood test is not ordered, a patient’s condition can be missed.
Failing to Review a Patient’s Medical History and Risk Factors
Sometimes misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose happens when a physician does not carefully review a patient’s risk factors and medical history. This is particularly true when an underlying condition, complications, or co-occurring conditions are missed.
Failing to Correctly Interpret Diagnostic Results
Test results can sometimes be misinterpreted by a physician. In some cases, this misinterpretation is indefensible. Sometimes a physician may argue that their interpretation was consistent with the standard of care.
Proving a Failure to Diagnose Condition Case in Mobile, AL
Physicians are not liable for all diagnostic mistakes. To prove your medical negligence case based on failure to diagnose your condition, your Mobile medical malpractice attorney will need to prove three things:
- There was a doctor-patient relationship
- The physician was negligent. This means he or she did not meet the standard of care with the reasonable skill and competence of a doctor with similar qualifications in similar circumstances.
- The physician’s negligence caused injury.
Not all cases of failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis are evidence that a physician was negligent. Even a skillful physician exercising reasonable care can make a diagnostic mistake. To determine if the physician behaved competently, your failure to diagnose condition lawyer in Mobile will evaluate what the physician did or did not do to reach a diagnosis.
The differential diagnosis method is often used in these cases. This system is used by physicians to diagnose a condition. After a preliminary evaluation, the physician should make a list of possible diagnoses in order of probability. Each possibility is tested through further observation, a review of the patient’s medical history, referring the patient to specialists, and ordering diagnostic tests.
This system generally rules out possible diagnoses and, ideally, leaves just one. However, this is not always possible.
To prove the physician was negligent, you must show that a physician with a similar specialty would not have misdiagnosed your condition under similar circumstances. This usually means proving either:
- The physician did not have the correct diagnosis on the differential diagnosis list and a reasonably competent physician would have done so.
- The correct diagnosis was on the differential diagnosis list but the appropriate steps or judgment were not used to investigate whether it was a viable diagnosis.
The other critical element that must be shown is that the misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose your condition caused your condition or injury to worsen or progress beyond what it would have if you had been diagnosed promptly. In the case of a stroke, for example, time is crucial. The faster the correct treatment is provided, the better the outcome for the patient and even minutes can matter.
Damages Available for Failure to Diagnose or Misdiagnosis
If you are successful in your case, you are entitled to compensation for the damages you have suffered. Your Alabama failure to diagnose lawyer at Lattof & Lattof, P.C. will work with you to prove the extent of your damages. You may be entitled to:
- Medical expenses, including anticipated future medical costs
- Lost wages for time you needed to take off work
- Reduced earning capacity and lost benefits if you are permanently disabled
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
If you have lost a loved one due to a failure to diagnose, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. In this case, you can recover damages for funeral expenses, loss of consortium, and the financial benefits and wages your family member would have provided.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases in Alabama
Alabama has a very strict statute of limitations that applies to medical malpractice claims. You have just 2 years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit from the date the malpractice occurred.
This deadline can be extended if the alleged malpractice was not discovered within two years. In this case, the statute of limits requires you to file a claim within 6 months of discovery.
When you rely on the six-month rule, you must show that you did not discover and had no reason to discover the existence of a medical malpractice claim within the standard two-year limit.
Despite this exception, there is also a statute of repose. This means a medical malpractice case cannot be filed more than 4 years after the date when the medical mistake was committed. It does not matter when it was discovered.
Contact a Mobile Failure to Diagnose Condition Lawyer Today
Do you believe that a doctor’s negligence caused your condition to be misdiagnosed? Was a failure to accurately diagnose your condition responsible for your worsened health? At Lattof & Lattof, P.C., our Mobile failure to diagnose lawyers are here to help you. We will fight for the fair compensation you deserve to get the medical treatment you deserve.
You shouldn’t suffer from the financial burden and reduced quality of life that can come from a failure to diagnose or other diagnostic error. Contact our legal team today to schedule your free consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer who will help you explore your legal options.