Misdiagnosis: What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice in New Mexico?
Medicine is not an exact science. Doctors can make mistakes by simply misunderstanding patient’s symptoms or treating them for the wrong condition. In some cases, doctors fail to diagnosis a medical problem all together. When a doctor’s diagnostic error leads to incorrect treatment, delayed treatment, or no treatment, a patient’s condition can be made worse or the misdiagnosis could lead to death.
However, a mistake of diagnosis in and of itself is not enough to make a medical malpractice claim in New Mexico. Doctors are not required to be right every time they make a medical diagnosis. There are typically three things that a patient must prove in order to make a medical malpractice claim:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed.
- The doctor was negligent in that he did not provide treatment that met the standard of care.
- The doctor’s negligence caused damages (injuries) to the patient.
Understanding the Duty to Diagnose
When a patient presents to a doctor to seek diagnostic medical care, the doctor must follow acceptable medical procedures to identify, verify, and diagnosis the injury or illness. This process usually involves reviewing the patient’s medical history (including family history), conducting physical examinations, discussing symptoms, and ordering diagnostic testing. Doctors must then make an educated diagnosis based on their experience, knowledge, and the applicable standard of care.
Proving Negligence in a New Mexico Medical Malpractice Case
In order to prove that a doctor was negligent in their diagnosis or misdiagnosis, a plaintiff must show that a doctor in the same or similar specialty with the same facts would not have misdiagnosed the illness or injury.
Common Claims of Misdiagnosis
Some studies reveal that misdiagnoses happen to 1 of every 20 patients each year. Approximately 10-20% of the cases are patients with serious conditions. The most commonly misdiagnosed and under diagnosed diseases include the following:
- Cancer is by far the most commonly misdiagnosed disease accounting for 44% of yearly misdiagnoses.
- Stroke is underdiagnosed in 2% to 26% of patients and over diagnosed in 30% to 43% of patients.
- Heart attacks are commonly misdiagnosed when the symptoms are painless and less obvious.
- Neurological and inflammatory diseases are often misdiagnosed due to nonspecific symptoms.
Have You Received a Medical Misdiagnosis in New Mexico?
If you or a loved one received a misdiagnosis from a medical professional (or if you suspect medical malpractice of any kind) it is imperative that you reach out to an experienced attorney immediately to evaluate your claim. As we discussed above, though medical misdiagnosis is common, misdiagnosis claims can be hard to prove. The experienced team of attorneys at Keller & Keller understands New Mexico medical malpractice laws and has the experience to fight for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.