Am I required to pay a doctor if he misdiagnosed me and caused me to have to get another, even more expensive, procedure that I have to pay for as well?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Am I required to pay a doctor if he misdiagnosed me and caused me to have to get another, even more expensive, procedure that I have to pay for as well?

I went to a clinic because my leg bones were hurting. They did an X-ray. Besides what was making my bones hurt, they saw a spot on the X-ray that appeared to be in my lungs. They scheduled a CT scan at a local hospital. The results were diagnosed as a mass in my mid-lobe right lung. This caused the doctor at the clinic to schedule an even more expensive PET scan. This test is more conclusive and shows only a small cyst in my esophagus. If the first test had been read correctly, I wouldn’t owe for 2 expensive tests and 2 doctors for reading them. Shouldn’t the CT scan doctor be held responsible for the PET scan even being done, not to mention making me think I possibly had lung cancer. Thank goodness these tests were only a week a part because I didn’t sleep for the whole week worrying.

Asked on January 26, 2019 under Malpractice Law, Kentucky


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If the "misdiagnosis" was a reasonable one--one that the average reasonable doctor would make--then it was not wrongful and you have to pay. The law does not expect doctors to be infalllible: it expects them to make reasonable diagnoses and decisions. So long as they do, they are paid for their work, even if they turn out to be wrong. In this case, it appears reasonable: yes, it caused you to have to pay for another scan and scared you, but consider the opposite case--where this was a cancerous mass but they did nothing about it. In that case, you could easily have died from it. It is reasonable, when seeing something that could potentially be cancer, to send someone for another, more precise--even if more expensive--test, since the effect of not following up (untreateed cancer) is worse the effect of following up unnecessarily (spending money on a test).

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