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Knoxville Medical Malpractice Attorney > Blog > Medical Malpractice > Medical Misdiagnosis: When Does A Mistake Become Malpractice?

Medical Misdiagnosis: When Does A Mistake Become Malpractice?


When you seek medical treatment, you count on doctors and medical staff to assess your condition and put you on the path to recovery. This starts with a diagnosis, and doctors have a duty of care to follow accepted medical practices in identifying the cause of a health problem. These practices include physical examinations, patient interviews, diagnostic tests, and a review of medical records and patient history. All geared toward a patient’s quick recovery.

Unfortunately, mistakes happen all too often. Statistics show that up to 12 million Americans – or 5% of adults – are misdiagnosed each year. Whether the misdiagnosis is due to missing information, human error, or medical negligence, the consequences can be dangerous or even fatal. Misdiagnoses are said to contribute to approximately 10% of patient deaths and other adverse consequences.

Misdiagnosis cases commonly include conditions such as:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • Breast Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Meningitis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Appendicitis

A missed diagnosis leading to worsened conditions, injury, or death must be thoroughly investigated by an experienced attorney with a proven track record in handling healthcare negligence claims in Tennessee.

Whether a patient can sue on a medical misdiagnosis claim depends on the facts of each case and the doctor’s adherence to the appropriate standard of care. What the doctor knew or should have known, and how they acted upon their information are crucial elements of a potential negligence case. Misdiagnosis in itself does not give rise to a lawsuit – even the most skilled doctors can make a diagnostic error. With the rise of technological advancements in medicine, computer error may also be a factor.

Misdiagnosis, or failure to diagnose, can lead to legal action when any of the following occur:

  • Improper medical treatment
  • Delayed treatment or lack of treatment
  • Aggravations or complications with an existing condition

When Misdiagnosis Becomes Malpractice

Tennessee health care liability law requires a malpractice claimant to show that a doctor breached their duty of care, and the misdiagnosis was negligent and led to injury.

More specifically, patients claiming a misdiagnosis injury will need to show:

  • A healthcare provider-patient relationship with the defendant
  • The recognized standard of acceptable professional practice applicable to the defendant
  • That the defendant acted with less than ordinary and reasonable care or failed to act with ordinary and reasonable care (i.e., they “deviated” from the Standard of Care)
  • That as a proximate result of the defendant’s negligent act or omission, the plaintiff suffered injuries which would not otherwise have occurred.

These cases raise factual and legal questions that only an experienced attorney can help you address. At Atkins Brezina, PLLC, we have a strong track record in helping victims of medical errors and misdiagnosis. While most doctors and medical staff do their very best under stressful circumstances, mistakes do happen and those mistakes have consequences. You and your family are entitled under law to recover against those who caused harm through acts of negligence.

Our firm is also uniquely qualified to review your medical misdiagnosis case because we practice with J. Tucker Montgomery, M.D., J.D. – an attorney and doctor who has worked for years in both professions. This means you can receive an analysis of the merits of your claim based upon the knowledge and experience of an attorney who is also a medical doctor.

Call now for a free consultation

If you believe that a family member has been harmed as a result of medical misdiagnosis, you may be entitled to recovery. Call Atkins Brezina, PLLC, at 865-500-3121 for a no-cost consultation with a skilled and experienced Knoxville medical malpractice attorney.



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