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Missed Diagnoses: Knowing When an Oversight is Actionable

Feb 20, 2015 - Articles - by Dodson & Hooks, APLC

You have just endured the unthinkable: the diagnosis of a debilitating – but treatable – disease. However, your condition has advanced to a stage in which your physician is unsure whether a cure is possible. Or, in the alternative, you will be able to live with your condition – but it would have been much more treatable if caught earlier. Suddenly, you recall the series of visits to your physician several years earlier, complaining of similar symptoms and inquiring about the possibility of the very condition you are now facing – from which you were guaranteed not to be suffering.

What can you do? In the face of a missed diagnosis, it is not uncommon to feel unfathomable levels of frustration, anger and disappointment. You may feel frustration with your medical team for missing the obvious, anger at your situation – one which could have possibly been avoided, and possibly disappointment in yourself for not further pushing the issue.

However, there may be a remedy to the situation after all, as Louisiana law has recognized missed medical diagnoses as a cause of action in medical malpractice, and our Baton Rouge personal injury lawyers can help you finally experience the advocacy you deserve.

Medical Malpractice in Baton Rouge

In many instances of medical malpractice, it is the doctor’s negligent actions that give rise to liability. In a missed diagnosis case, the opposite is true – the doctor’s inaction has caused you unnecessary pain and suffering, all of which may be compensable.

Within a typical medical malpractice case, it is necessary to prove that, but for the doctor’s act (or omission), the resulting injury or illness would not have taken place or occurred at all. In some cases, proving this causation factor can prove exceedingly difficult, as medical cases often invoke intervening health issues – and fodder for expert witnesses to point out the presence of a host of alleged health problems that occurred naturally and not due to the action or inaction of any particular doctor.

However, in a missed diagnosis case, the causal connection may be more easily established by showing that but for the doctor’s negligent review of test results or diagnostic images, the underlying condition would have been easily discovered. With the help of a personal injury attorney, you may be able to recover a considerable amount of damages to help offset the unwarranted health problems you have incurred as a result of your physician’s oversight and missed diagnosis.

Time Limits on a Missed Diagnosis Personal Injury Action

Much like any other personal injury lawsuit, Louisiana statute places a certain time limit on plaintiffs wishing to file a claim against the physician responsible for their missed diagnosis. However, in this context, there may be a possibility for a time extension to accommodate for the amount of time it takes a plaintiff to actually discover a negligent missed diagnosis. Uniquely known in Louisiana as the “Prescriptive Period,” medical malpractice plaintiffs generally have one year from the date of the doctor’s negligence to file a claim for damages.

However, under the “Discovery Rule,” this prescriptive period may be expanded to allow a patient additional time to file a claim. The discovery rule dictates that a plaintiff has one year from the date he actually receives word of the missed diagnosis – or should have known of the problem through due diligence – to file a claim. In other words, if a condition goes unnoticed through diagnostic tests or images, and the patient eventually finds out about the problem later through testing, the prescriptive period begins to run on the date he discovers the problem – up to three years from the original date of the missed diagnosis.

Get Help For Your Personal Injury Case Today!

For more information about the complexities of Louisiana’s medical malpractice statute, or to discuss your missed diagnosis with a Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer, please contact Dodson & Hooks APLC today by calling (225) 372-1666.

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