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Bronx Personal Injury & Real Estate Blog

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

When a Misdiagnosis is Medical Malpractice

Q: Can I sue for malpractice if I was misdiagnosed?

Medical malpractice happens when a doctor, hospital or other medical provider “deviates from the accepted standard of practice” and that deviation results in an injury to the patient. So, there is a two-pronged test. First, prove the treatment deviated from the usual standard of care; then prove the injury resulted from that deviation. Of course, that’s a generalization of a very complicated area of law.

The injury may result from a negligent, reckless, or even an intentional action or inaction. Depending on the circumstances of each particular case, victims of medical malpractice may be entitled to recover compensatory damages for such losses as current and anticipated medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages. If the victim of the medical malpractice dies, a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate.

Very often, when people think of a medical malpractice scenario, they think of a patient who is the victim of a botched medical procedure. And while that scenario may certainly rise to the level of medical malpractice, there are several other actions—or inactions--that may fall under the medical malpractice “umbrella” of claims.

One of scenarios that may rise to the level of medical malpractice involves a medical misdiagnosis. Doctors and hospitals may miss or misdiagnose such things as pediatric conditions, cardiac conditions, cancer, or more.

A fascinating area of medicine is the rapidly advancing field of genetic diagnostic testing. People can use genetic testing technology in several ways, including getting a detailed genetic personal history, pre-implantation screening of embryos for hereditary diseases in conjunction with in-vitro fertilization, and even to help pinpoint a cause of death. They may even rely on the results of those tests to take prophylactic medical action to avoid getting or passing on a genetic disease.

It was newsworthy when Angelina Jolie used genetic testing to confirm that she carried the BRC-A gene mutation that significantly increases a carrier’s odds of getting breast and/or ovarian cancer. Acting on that information, she subsequently had her breasts and ovaries removed to virtually eliminate that cancer risk.

But genetic diagnostic testing is not always perfect.

One family whose teenage son died suddenly and inexplicably from a cardiac-related event turned to genetic diagnostic testing of other family members for answers. After more than 20 of the dead boy’s family members were tested for genetic heart conditions, his brother and others were reportedly diagnosed with “a potentially deadly genetic heart rhythm condition called long QT syndrome.” Relying on this diagnosis, the brother underwent heart surgery to implant a heart defibrillator as a preventative measure against heart arrhythmias.

They reportedly later learned from another doctor that the long QT diagnoses were wrong—which may have explained why none of those told they had the condition displayed any of the symptoms usually associated with it. A posthumous molecular autopsy was then performed on the deceased son’s DNA. He was found to have had and died from a “genetically mediated heart muscle disease due to a completely different mutation that was present in him and him alone."

If you or a loved one have been injured or misdiagnosed by a doctor, hospital or medical provider, an experienced medical malpractice attorney will evaluate your case and guide you through the complicated legal and medical issues of your particular claim in order to maximize the amount of compensation you may recover.

The Goldstein Law Firm in Bronx, NY has been serving clients all over New York as well as those injured while visiting New York for almost 20 years. Call us for a free consultation of your personal injury or medical malpractice claim at (718) 239-0239.


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