Medical malpractice is one of the most serious causes of personal injury, as it often exacerbates conditions that were already serious enough to warrant medical attention. This is especially true of misdiagnosis, which can lead to devastating medication or surgery mistakes.
Victims of misdiagnosis may seek compensation through legal action, which often resolves in a settlement. However, you should be wary of accepting a settlement and waiving your right to sue when the offered amount may not reflect fair value for compensating your harms.
To discuss your case and potential settlement agreement terms with a knowledgeable Columbia medical malpractice attorney, call Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers at (803) 451-4000. We can offer you a free initial case evaluation when you place your first call today.
Is Misdiagnosis a Form of Medical Malpractice in South Carolina?
Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider’s professional negligence leads to harm for a patient. The category of medical malpractice applies to a wide range of medical professional mistakes and reckless behavior, and the failure to accurately and timely diagnose a patient’s condition may well be included in that.
Not every instance of misdiagnosis is considered medical malpractice. In some instances, a patient’s condition may be naturally difficult to identify, even when using all the standard protocols and techniques employed in the specific medical field. Misdiagnosis will be considered medical malpractice when the physician or other medical care provider deviated from professional diagnostic standards, where using these standards would have avoided the harm caused.
Some examples of medical malpractice leading to misdiagnosis include the following:
- Failing to provide a full clinical evaluation or work-up
- Ignoring a patient’s medical history
- Discounting a patient’s reported symptoms
- Failing to refer a complex case to a specialist
- Misreading lab tests or diagnostic imaging (such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans)
When Can You File a Lawsuit for Misdiagnosis in South Carolina?
In order to recover compensation for a misdiagnosis in South Carolina, the plaintiff must be able to show that the malpractice led to harmful consequences. These could arise in a variety of circumstances, including the examples listed below.
Lack of Treatment
The easiest connection between misdiagnosis or late diagnosis and harm is often the worsening of the patient’s condition during the period where they did not receive the appropriate treatment. When certain conditions are not identified, they cause pain and suffering in the patient for a longer period of time and may continue to worsen, even to the point of becoming fatal.
When it comes to medical care, the wrong course of treatment can do just as much damage as no treatment at all. In some cases, improper treatment can cause even more harm than the original condition itself. Certain medications can cause adverse reactions in light of the patient’s actual condition or medical history. Even if the physician arrives at the correct diagnosis, they might prescribe the wrong dosage of the correct medication. According to the American Journal of Medicine, this accounts for over a million malpractice deaths every year.
If a health care provider reaches the wrong diagnosis of a patient’s condition, they may recommend surgery to treat it. Surgery always comes with risk, but in the case of a misdiagnosis, even a “successful” surgery can have immense repercussions for a patient. Some of these surgeries, such as amputations, transplants, and hysterectomies, to name a few, are irreversible, leaving the patient to deal with the consequences of the misdiagnosis for the rest of their lives.
Should You Accept a Settlement for a Medical Malpractice Claim of Misdiagnosis in South Carolina?
A settlement is an arrangement between a potential plaintiff and a defendant (or their insurer) where the plaintiff accepts a negotiated sum of money in exchange for waiving their right to pursue legal action against the defendant.
Settlements can be useful legal tools that get the victim monetary compensation while avoiding the need to take on a time-consuming and stressful court case. However, in any situation where you are contemplating giving up any of your rights, you should always discuss your options carefully with a seasoned South Carolina personal injury attorney.
While settlements are meant to serve as compensation for a plaintiff’s harms, their value rarely, if ever, matches what they stand to obtain through damages in a court case. This is a calculated strategy by defendants and their insurers, who know that patients are likely to give up some amount of the money they are owed to avoid the risk and trouble of court.
This is why many settlement offers, particularly the first settlement offer, will be much lower than what you stand to make if you pursue your claim further. However, you are in no way obligated to accept the first settlement offer you receive.
Medical malpractice plaintiffs in South Carolina are free to negotiate the terms of their settlement, even after they have filed their formal claim in court. Many of these types of cases end up settling just hours before the actual trial is set to begin. These settlements are known as “courthouse steps” settlements.
Rather than trying to take on negotiations with the other side on your own, you would be wise to enlist the help of an experienced Columbia personal injury lawyer that can advise you of your options and estimate your damages so that you have a clear idea of what your case is worth.
Victim of Misdiagnosis in South Carolina? Call Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers Today
Medical malpractice victims who are experiencing the consequences of a misdiagnosis can benefit immediately from a free initial case evaluation from the Lexington personal injury attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers. Call today to learn more at (803) 451-4000.