Can You Sue a Doctor for a Misdiagnosis?

In an ideal world, we would always be able to trust our doctors and other healthcare professionals to know how to take care of us when we are unhealthy or injured. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and misdiagnoses are made. This could be a mistake due to a complicated condition, or it could be a case of negligence, in which you will want to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville.

What is Misdiagnosis?

Misdiagnosis is something that falls under the umbrella of medical malpractice. It can refer both to a diagnostic error and /or mistreatment. This would include misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, failure to diagnose, or giving the wrong treatment for a particular illness. These types of mistakes can lead to various forms of personal injury, including:

  • The medical condition could worsen
  • The correct diagnosis could be delayed
  • Wrongful death

Misdiagnosis can be caused by a doctor's negligent behavior, for example, failing to examine a patient properly or not following the correct diagnostic procedures to identify the illness correctly. When this occurs, a medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville can help you to recover damages to help cover your medical costs and other financial losses due to the misdiagnosis.

Common Misdiagnoses

In order to sue a medical professional with the help of a medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville, the misdiagnosis must have resulted in injury - or wrongful death. Statistics show that around 1 in 20 patients are misdiagnosed, resulting in their medical conditions going untreated or undergoing unnecessary treatments. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed illnesses include:

  1. Asthma - commonly misdiagnosed as recurring bronchitis
  2. Heart Attack - panic attacks or indigestion is often the explanation for a missed heart attack.
  3. Lyme Disease - can often be mistaken for flu, depression, or mononucleosis.
  4. Parkinson's Disease - stroke, stress, and Alzheimer's are sometimes diagnosed in place of Parkinson's
  5. Lupus - frequently dismissed as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, or chronic fatigue syndrome.

What to Do if You Have Been Misdiagnosed

If you believe that you or a member of your family has been misdiagnosed, the first priority is to seek the appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Your health is the most important, and you will want to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan in place to minimize any further damage to your health. Once this has been addressed, you should contact a medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville to help determine if you have a valid claim and prepare a lawsuit.

It is important to note that, as the patient, you must ensure that your injury or illness is not made worse. You should continue to follow doctors' advice unless your condition worsens. You are also obligated not to delay treatment to make the condition worse on purpose. If you are found to have done so, you may be found to be committing fraud by making your health intentionally worse to receive more significant damages. It would be best to do what you can to treat your illness or injury, as the medical malpractice lawsuit will only be based on the initial misdiagnosis, not on any new or worsening symptoms. When you are working with a medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville, they will be able to guide you on the steps you are expected to take. This is known as mitigating damages.

Proving Medical Malpractice

If you are going to sue a doctor for medical malpractice after a misdiagnosis, it is necessary to prove four separate elements of the claim. A medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville will work on gathering evidence to support each of these areas.

  • Duty - The first thing that needs to be proven is that the doctor has a duty of care to you. This is usually present in a doctor-patient relationship, and it can be as simple as proving that they were the doctor in charge of your medical care.
  • Breach - Once a duty of care is established, the next step is proving the duty of care has been breached. Misdiagnosis does not automatically mean that the doctor was negligent. You will need to prove that a different, reasonably competent doctor would not have made a mistake or that the doctor has disregarded protocols that would have led to a correct diagnosis.
  • Causation - It is also necessary to prove that the misdiagnosis has caused harm. For example, if a patient was misdiagnosed with bronchitis instead of asthma and was hit by a car later that day, the misdiagnosis would not cause the resulting injuries. Only injuries resulting from failure to treat asthma would be applicable.
  • Damages - Finally, you must show that the misdiagnosis caused damages. For example, if you were misdiagnosed with a migraine instead of flu and given pain relief, which ultimately helped with the flu, you did not suffer any damage. However, if your appendicitis was misdiagnosed as kidney stones and the appendix burst due to lack of treatment, it is clear that the misdiagnosis resulted in damages.

If you feel you have been misdiagnosed and can satisfy the four areas outlined above, reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville today to start on your claim.


Butler, Vines and Babb is a leading law firm in Knoxville, TN, with extensive litigation experience in Medical Malpractice LawBirth Injury LawTrucking Accident LawPersonal Injury Law, and Business Law. Contact us today at or call 865-637-3531.

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