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Medical Misdiagnosis in Pennsylvania – Do You Have a Case?
Last updated: May 24, 2022
Patients who suspect that they have received negligent care, i.e., medical misdiagnosis, by a doctor or in a hospital in Pennsylvania are often unsure about whether they have a viable case. Unfortunately, the only way to be sure is to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer.
Two Things to Know About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
- What’s the Extent of the Harm?
There are two important things to consider. First, we must consider the extent of the harm.
If the patient wasn’t harmed by the medical negligence, or if the harm was minimal, then the inquiry stops there.
Medical malpractice claims are costly to pursue and win, especially since insurance companies and their large law firms spare no expense in defending doctors and hospitals. The harm suffered by the patient must be sufficient to justify moving forward.
Example 1: Family Doctor Failed to Diagnose Kidney Infection
A family doctor in Philadelphia fails to diagnose a kidney infection. Two days after the visit, the patient returns to the family doctor with additional symptoms including fever and blood in the urine. Her family doctor prescribes an antibiotic which resolves the infection. The patient makes a full recovery.
Here, the harm suffered would NOT justify a medical malpractice claim against the doctor. Even though the doctor failed to diagnose the kidney infection, there was no harm.
Example 2: ER Doctor Misdiagnosed Stroke
One day after a patient is sent home from an emergency room in Pennsylvania with symptoms of stroke, he suffers a massive stroke and dies. Here, the harm is significant, and a medical malpractice claim against the hospital would be justified so long as negligence can be proven.
- Did the Conduct Fall Below a Specific Standard of Care?
Second, the standard of care that is applied will vary from case to case. It’s important to note that developing complications or even suffering a failed medical procedure are not, in and of themselves, evidence of medical malpractice.
Pennsylvania law requires the patient to prove that the medical provider’s conduct fell below a standard of care, applicable to that specialty. A family doctor will be held to a family doctor’s standard of care, while an emergency room physician will be held to an ER doctor’s standard of care. Using the two examples from above, we’ll now examine the applicable standard of care.
Example 1: Family Doctor Held to Standard of Care Applicable to Family Doctors
Using example one from above, let’s assume that the harm was significant, i.e., the patient suffered permanent kidney damage or required invasive medical treatment as a result of the misdiagnosis. Now, we examine the family doctor’s conduct.
The patient, who had a prior history of urinary tract infections, went to her family doctor complaining of odd urinary symptoms, including cloudy urine and pain in the lower back. The doctor ordered a urinalysis and received the result the following day. The report showed critical elevations of white blood cells. However, after receiving the lab report, the family doctor never followed up with the patient.
Here, the family doctor’s failure to diagnose the kidney infection would be reviewed under a standard of care applicable to family doctors, i.e., did the family doctor’s failure to follow up with the patient fall below the standard of care applicable to family doctors?
Example 2: Emergency Room Doctor Held to Standard of Care Applicable to Emergency Room Doctors
Since the harm in the second example discussed above is significant, we now examine the ER doctor’s negligent conduct. The patient went to the hospital with classic symptoms of pending stroke, including weakness on one side of the body, dizziness and mental confusion. However, he was diagnosed with the flu and sent home with antibiotics. Here, the ER doctor’s failure to diagnose stroke would be compared with the standard of care applicable to ER doctors.
Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law Firm
Our law firm concentrates on complex medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania including Philadelphia, Delaware and Montgomery counties. Since 2016, the firm has been recognized as a Best Law Firm by U.S. News & World Report in the area of medical malpractice law. We’ve gone up against some of the largest hospitals in Pennsylvania and won millions of dollars for our clients. Call us for a free consultation at (610) 825-0500.
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We Accept Medical Malpractice Cases Against Hospitals in the Philadelphia Area
Cases Also Accepted Across Pennsylvania
Chestnut Hill Hospital
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Roxborough Memorial Hospital
Temple University Hospital
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Crozer-Chester Medical Center (Upland)
Delaware County Memorial Hospital (Drexel Hill, Upper Darby)
Springfield Hospital (Springfield)
Taylor Hospital (Ridley)
Abington Hospital (Abington, Lansdale)
Bryn Mawr Hospital (Bryn Mawr)
Einstein Medical (East Norriton, Elkins Park)
Holy Redeemer Hospital (Meadowbrook)
Lankenau Hospital (Wynnewood)
Suburban Community Hospital (Norristown)
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Phila., West Chester, East Norriton, Meadowbrook, Doylestown, Langhorne, Sellersville, etc.)
St. Christopher's Hospital for Children
Shriner's Hospitals for Children
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