What are my rights regarding failure to accurately diagnosis an injury?

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What are my rights regarding failure to accurately diagnosis an injury?

I was injured about 10 months ago. I saw an urgent care doctor right after the injury and he advised me to have an MRI done, however he said that I had to have my primary doctor order it. So I saw my primary doctor and she ordered an X-ray which showed nothing; she left it at that. Yet, the injury has gotten progressively worse and I am now under the care of a different doctor who sent me in for MRI which showed that I have extensive degenerative disc and nerve damage. Is this something I can sue the former doctor for?

Asked on November 20, 2018 under Malpractice Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

To successfully sue the former doctor, you would have to be able to show both of the following:
1) Fault--that she was careless in some way, or did not provide the level of care that a doctor is reasonably expected to provide. If she did provide the expected level or quality of care, she would not be liable; doctors are only liable when they don't do what we expect of doctors. The fact that she did not catch the degenerative disc and nerve damage does not prove that her care was careless, since if a reasonable doctor would have done and thought what she did, she fulfilled her obligations. (The law accepts that good doctors sometimes miss things.) To prove negligent care, you would need another doctor, who has examined you and your records, to offer the professional opinion based on his/her experience and medical eduction that the former doctor did the following things wrong.
2) The carelessness must have injured you--caused additional damage, for example, due to a lack of treatment. If the same damage and problems would have occured anyway, even if your former doctor had made the correct diagnosis 10 months ago, there is no liabilty, because you can only sue for the injury caused by the misdignosis, so no injury due to it, nothing to sue for. That the misdiagnosis caused your injury or condition to get worse would also have to be proven by another doctor's expert opinion.


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