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When a misdiagnosis could be medical malpractice

Everybody makes mistakes at work from time to time. But if you work as a doctor, your errors can have much greater consequences than in most jobs. Instead of a mistake on a spreadsheet, a doctor’s error can cost someone their life.

Misdiagnosing a patient’s condition is one of the most common mistakes doctors in and around Naperville can make. But keep in mind that not every doctor who misdiagnoses a patient has committed medical malpractice under Illinois law. Certain things must have happened for a patient who was misdiagnosed to have a cause of action for malpractice against the doctor or hospital.

When an error is medical negligence

There are four elements to medical malpractice: duty, breach, causation and damages. When a doctor takes on a patient, they have a legal duty to give the patient reasonably competent treatment. Breach is the failure to live up to that duty.

However, a misdiagnosis is not automatically a breach of duty. Some diseases and conditions are hard to diagnose correctly. To show that your doctor breached their responsibility to you, you need to prove that another doctor who acted reasonably competently would have diagnosed you accurately. Examples of potential malpractice include:

  • Failing to order standard tests for someone with your symptoms
  • Failing to ask you key questions or not listening closely as you describe your symptoms
  • Not taking action when you complain you are not getting better

These are examples of negligence that go beyond a simple mistake. They tend to show that the physician did not provide you the level of care you deserve under the law. Besides duty and breach, you must show that the doctor’s negligence harmed you and led to damages.


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