What to do if a doctor does not correctly diagnose your condition?

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What to do if a doctor does not correctly diagnose your condition?

My husband has Diverticulitis and was just released from the hospital after being there 4 days. In the last month, he has been to his doctor twice with the same complaints. The doctor told him he had a pulled abdominal muscle, put him on pain pills, and sent him home both times without doing any tests. At both visits, my husband presented his symptoms but no tests were run. My husband also called 911 a few days after the last doctor visit as he was in that much pain. The EMT refused to take him, because he insisted it couldn’t possibly be Diverticulitis or my husband wouldn’t be able to walk. I ended up driving him to the ER where he was finally diagnosed correctly. Is there anything legally we can do?

Asked on November 29, 2012 under Malpractice Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A misdiagnosis can be malpractice, if the diagnosing physician(s) was/were negligent, or did not show the level of care  expected of a physician.

However, it may not be worthwhile to pursue a malpractice case. You can recover additional medical costs (i.e. extra medical costs you only incurred due to the misdiagnosis), pain and suffering for prolonged pain, disability, diminution of quality of life, etc., and lost wages (if any). If your husband ended up getting more or less the same medical treatment (and incurring more or less the same medical bills) as he would have had the diagnosis been made correctly, and if he only suffered pain for a few extra days, it's not worth suing--since medical malpractice cases are among the most expensive to bring (you need medical expert witnesses), it's possible you would not even recover enough to break even.

On the other hand, if there were significant bills or lost wages, or your husband has suffered some ongoing disability or pain due to the misdiagnosis, then it  may be worthwhile to sue; in that event, you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney.


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