Who Pays After a Misdiagnosis?

March 18, 2024 / RP Legal

A victim of medical misdiagnosis has multiple problems. They’re not getting the medical care that they truly need, and in exchange, they may receive the wrong medical care that worsens their situation.

Even when a misdiagnosis occurs, the victim may still be billed for services. They may wonder who pays for misdiagnosis and whether they may receive compensation.

The Columbia medical malpractice lawyers at Rikard & Protopapas explain who pays after a misdiagnosis.

Do You Have to Pay for a Misdiagnosis?

A misdiagnosis is the incorrect diagnosis of a medical condition, disease, or ailment.

Misdiagnosis is a common problem in medical care. WebMD estimates that misdiagnosis causes 795,000 deaths or permanent disability each year in the United States.

You may qualify for a medical malpractice payment after a misdiagnosis if failing to make an accurate diagnosis was malpractice. A misdiagnosis may be malpractice if the actions of a healthcare provider fell below professional standards of skill and care.

Compensation for Misdiagnosis

A misdiagnosis can result in significant costs for a patient. A patient may incur:

  • Costs to get a second opinion
  • Billing for the incorrect care
  • Additional expenses because the needed treatment was delayed
  • Lost income from the inability to work
  • Hospitalization and personal care expenses
  • Increased expenses for personal care and family care
  • Prescription costs

In addition, a victim of misdiagnosis may experience physical pain, mental suffering, and emotional anguish. Their life expectancy may decrease, or the misdiagnosis may be fatal. The losses from a misdiagnosis are both personal and financial.

Payment for medical misdiagnosis

If you are a victim of medical misdiagnosis, you can contest the bill with the care provider. However, they are unlikely to simply admit their mistake and forgive your bill. In most cases, you need to bring a claim for compensation.

In your case, you prove that the misdiagnosis was unreasonable. You may show that the healthcare provider failed in their skills, actions, or judgment, resulting in the misdiagnosis and your harm.

The payment you receive may reflect your losses including economic and non-economic damages.

Why Does Misdiagnosis Occur?

Some reasons why medical misdiagnoses may occur include:

  • Lack of knowledge of the medical condition and its symptoms
  • Inattention, carelessness
  • Record mix ups
  • Not keeping up to date with developments in medicine
  • Failing to get a thorough patient history
  • Declining to order needed tests
  • Delays in testing
  • Not having necessary equipment or personnel
  • Interpreting tests incorrectly
  • Symptoms that are unclear
  • Multiple explanations for symptoms
  • Rare medical conditions

Some diagnoses are simply challenging. Even a skilled and attentive practitioner may make an incorrect diagnosis if a medical condition is rare or if symptoms are unclear. However, a misdiagnosis may be the result of medical negligence. If a misdiagnosis could have been prevented, a victim may have the right to payment.

What are the leading types of misdiagnoses in medical care?

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Infections
  • Cancer
  • Sepsis
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood clots
  • Spinal abscess

Misdiagnosis rates vary significantly based on the nature of the ailment. For example, WebMD reports a misdiagnosis rate for heart attacks of 1.5%, while spinal abscesses are misdiagnosed 62% of the time.

South Carolina Medical Misdiagnosis Laws

Medical misdiagnosis falls under medical malpractice law. S.C. Code § 15-79-125 states that medical malpractice is doing what a reasonably prudent healthcare professional would not do, or failing to do what they would do. The law looks at the situation from the same or similar circumstances.

The question in a claim for compensation is whether the medical care provider was unreasonable or unskilled in failing to make the correct diagnosis. The law doesn’t look back on the situation with perfect knowledge. The law accounts for situations where even the most skilled doctor could not have the information needed to make a correct diagnosis. The question is whether the misdiagnosis would have occurred if the doctor had used reasonable skill and attention.

One of the questions may be whether they ordered the right tests based on the person’s symptoms. It may be whether they asked the patient the right questions. The healthcare professional’s knowledge may be relevant, and their knowledge is evaluated based on a person with a similar medical specialty.

Determining whether misdiagnosis is medical malpractice, and the basis for payment, depends on the specific facts and circumstances. As lawyers, we help our clients build the evidence, working with experts to document why the misdiagnosis occurred.

If a misdiagnosis is medical malpractice, a victim may receive payment for their damages and harms. They must bring a claim. The lawyers at Rikard & Protopapas can represent you.

How to Claim a Payment for Medical Misdiagnosis

A claim for payment based on medical misdiagnosis must follow the procedures outlined in S.C. Code § 15-79-110 et. seq., Medical Malpractice Actions. The claimant must file a notice of intent to file suit (S.C. Code § 15-79-120). Mediation is required. (S.C. Code § 15-79-120).

Any medical malpractice action relies heavily on medical evidence. This evidence is developed through patient records and expert testimony.

Evidence presented for a medical misdiagnosis payment must do the following:

  • Identify the misdiagnosis
  • Explain why it is incorrect
  • Show how the wrong diagnosis was the result of inadequate medical care
  • Identify damages and harms that resulted to the patient
  • Value damages that may be claimed under the law

There are several elements that must be proven for a victim of an incorrect diagnosis to receive a payment. This evidence must meet legal standards required by South Carolina medical malpractice law. A claimant has a right to a trial, but many claims are resolved through negotiations and mediation.

Talk to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer About Your Wrong Diagnosis

Are you a victim of a medical misdiagnosis? We invite you to talk to a misdiagnosis lawyer at Rikard & Protopapas about how you may receive a payment. You may qualify to receive monetary compensation for the losses that you have.

Our lawyers handle all aspects of your case from investigation and information gathering to the legal steps of pursuing a claim. At Rikard & Protopapas, our experienced team seeks justice and financial compensation for those harmed by misdiagnosis.

To talk about your situation, call 803-978-6111 or message us now.

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