Can I Sue a Doctor for Misdiagnosis? |
sue a doctor for misdiagnosis

Can I Sue a Doctor for Misdiagnosis?

If you have been  harmed due to a healthcare provider failing to diagnose a medical condition, or misdiagnosing one, you may be considering the question – “can I sue a doctor for misdiagnosis?” The short…

If you have been  harmed due to a healthcare provider failing to diagnose a medical condition, or misdiagnosing one, you may be considering the question – “can I sue a doctor for misdiagnosis?” The short answer to this question is “maybe”.  To provide an accurate answer, it is necessary to take a more in-depth look at the facts surrounding your situation.

Read on to learn more about misdiagnosis, and how a medical malpractice attorney may answer this question.

Common Conditions that are Misdiagnosed

There are as many possible scenarios for misdiagnosis as there are combinations of health and injury or illness.  Still, there are some conditions that seem to be misdiagnosed more often than others.  These conditions include:

  • Asthma – Often misdiagnosed as recurring bronchitis.
  • Heart Attack – Often misdiagnosed as a panic attack, indigestion, or esophageal conditions.
  • Staph Infection – Often misdiagnosed as the flu.
  • Stroke – Commonly dismissed as being a migraine, especially in young patients.
  • Cancer – Misdiagnosis can result in many painful and lengthy procedures that are not necessary.
  • Endometriosis – Commonly misdiagnosed as normal/functional cysts or other minor gynecological disorders, which can lead to years of pain and other complications.

These commonly misdiagnosed conditions are only a small glimpse into the vast nature of diagnosis and treatment.  There are many other medical conditions that may be misdiagnosed or dismissed.

Can I Sue a Doctor for Misdiagnosis?

Poet Alexander Pope coined the everlasting phrase “To err is human”.  The idea that all humans are capable of making mistakes is part of life, and part of medicine.  Healthcare providers, like all of us, are not exempt from making honest mistakes.  After all, it is called the “practice” of medicine, not the “exact science”.

To determine whether or not you may be able to sue a doctor for misdiagnosis, you will need to establish that the error he or she made was the result of negligence, and not a simple mistake.  Not all errors are malpractice.  To make this determination, you will need to do the following:

  • Establish that Medical Negligence Occurred – Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider violates the medical standard of care, or the professionally-accepted method for diagnosing or treating a specific condition. The standard of care may vary depending on factors individual to each patient, such as age, geographic location, overall health, and the specific condition.
  • Establish Causation – Establishing causation means proving that the healthcare providers negligence caused you harm. This is a more difficult element to prove, and often requires the aid of expert witnesses.

As you can see, there are many factors involved in determining whether you can sue a doctor for misdiagnosis, or any other medical error.  Because every medical malpractice case is so individualized, it is important to speak with a medical malpractice attorney before deciding to sue.

When is Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice?

While determining whether a medical mistake or misdiagnosis is malpractice depends on many factors unique to your situation, there are some errors that lead to malpractice lawsuits more than others.  These situations include:

  • A doctor or hospital losing or misfiling your medical records
  • Administering the wrong treatment
  • Improperly administering treatment
  • Improperly trained medical staff
  • Misdiagnosis caused by:
    • Failure to screen for certain medical conditions
    • Failure to refer you to a specialist
    • Failure to consult with you about your symptoms
    • Failure to properly investigate symptoms
    • Misinterpretation of laboratory results

Remember that the key to any error being legally considered malpractice is proving that the healthcare provider violated the standard of care.  The best way to find out if you can sue a doctor for misdiagnosis is by contacting a medical malpractice attorney. At, we can connect you to an attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.

Learn More about Misdiagnosis and Medical Malpractice

As this article suggests, there is not really a simple answer to whether someone can sue a doctor for misdiagnosis.  There are many variables in the world of healthcare, and every situation is unique.  With that said, as a patient, you do have certain legal rights when it comes to the care that you receive.  Further, you do not have to simply accept that an error occurred without asking questions or learning more about protecting yourself.

If you are concerned about misdiagnosis or medical malpractice laws, your best option is to spend some time learning more about medical malpractice laws in your state, and then contact an attorney.  At, we have helped numerous clients in all sorts of medical malpractice cases, including misdiagnosis.

We can help you sort through your concerns and determine if you have a medical malpractice case.  To learn more, schedule your free consultation with one of our skilled medical malpractice attorneys.  Fill out our online form to get started.

Meagan Cline

Written By Meagan Cline

Meagan Cline is a professional legal researcher and writer. She works alongside the team at to provide readers with up-to-date information relevant to the healthcare and legal industries.

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