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If a doctor diagnoses me with something and another diagnoses

Customer Question
me not having that problem...
If a doctor diagnoses me with something and another diagnoses me not having that problem, but it turns out that the first doctor was right, then would I have a case against the second doctor?

The first doctor's diagnosis would've probably been over the two-year statute of limitation, but does the second doctor's diagnosis constitute a separate case?
Submitted: 6 years ago.Category: Legal
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9/1/2011
Lawyer: Joseph, Attorney replied 6 years ago
Joseph
Joseph, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 7,280
Experience: I have 15 years experience in the legal field, currently specializing in criminal and family law
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Hello and thanks for choosing Just Answer®. I am a licensed attorney, and I will be glad to try and assist you.

 

To provide you with accurate information, could you please clarify these points so I can best address your inquiry:

 

  1. What is the diagnosis in question?
  2. Did the incorrect diagnosis by the second doctor cause you any harm? If so, what?

 

 

Once I hear back from you, I will be glad to let you know my answer. There may be some delay as I am assisting other customers or am away from my computer. Please rest assured, however, that I will get back to you as soon as possible.

 

Thank you.

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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
The diagnosis is osteoarthritis. When I went to a neurologist for numbing in my left hand, coming from the side of my pinky (facing away from the other fingers) down the side of my palm, the neurologist told me that the numbing was caused by some arthritis in my elbow.

I didn't go see an orthopedist immediately after the diagnosis, because I didn't know that it was necessary and I don't think I could afford it at the time. Recently, I saw an orthopedist because I think that I have arthritis in both elbows and in the fingers of my left hand, and I want to see what the cause could be.

The orthopedist told me that I didn't have any arthritis to begin with, in spite of the diagnosis of the first doctor and in spite of what I told him about both of my elbows. I don't think that the second doctor is right, however.

The damage would be (I think) be preventing me from finding the cause of my symptoms. If the arthritis isn't limited to one elbow but to both elbows and in my fingers, then there is a problem. Especially since I'm only 27 and any degenerative arthritis isn't likely to be caused by normal wear and tear.

I think that rheumatoid arthritis would be ruled out, because I did see another doctor on campus (last year), and he told me that there was no signs of inflamation or anything relating to rheumatoid arthritis.

Lawyer: Joseph, Attorney replied 6 years ago

Based on the facts as you have presented them, I do not see a viable cause of action here. There are a couple problems with a lawsuit. First, you had one diagnosis and you choose to seek a second. You ultimately discovered that the first diagnosis was correct, meaning you had the right information all along.

 

Another problem is the lack of any real harm. While I do appreciate your concerns, it would be difficult to make a legal argument that you suffered harm when an earlier doctor had provided a correct diagnosis.

 

Additionally, medical diagnosis is a tricky thing. Candidly, I suspect this is the reason you sought a second diagnosis in the first place. You can speak to five different doctors and quite likely get five different opinions.

 

Please let me know if anything requires clarification.

 

 

Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.

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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
The only reason for seeing another doctor was to find out why I'm getting the arthritis in the first place, not whether or not I had it.

I believe that the first doctor gave me the right information. So, I just want to see what's causing the arthritis. I don't want to have to see multiple doctors for the same problem, none of them telling me why I have it in the first place, until it's finally too late. So, if I go see a doctor to find the cause of the arthritis and the doctor simply denies that I have arthritis to begin with, thus preventing me from finding the cause of the arthritis, then isn't he or she causing me harm?

For instance, if my arthritis was caused by my having diabetes and a doctor denies that I have arthritis then wouldn't that be preventing me from finding the correct treatment? Or, that I will one day need surgery on my arms, but the doctor denies that I have it, then isn't that causing me harm?

I don't really know what the legal definition of harm would be, but I do think that anything that would prevent me from finding the right treatment is harmful to me according to the dictionary's definition.

Also, with the arthritis being experienced in not only one part of my body but in another part, then wouldn't that also be a separate case?


Additionally, can you cite specific court cases or laws where what you say might be true? I tried looking this up myself and couldn't find any court cases which fit my situation. If you can give me some idea as why what you're saying is true, then it might allow me a chance to confirm what you're telling me. Thank-you.
Lawyer: Joseph, Attorney replied 6 years ago

Civil lawsuits are not based on harm that you might suffer or could have suffered, they are based on actual harm. As to the definition of harm, it would be some quantifiable loss. For example, if you were incorrectly diagnosed and it could be demonstrated that the diagnosis caused you to lose an arm, that would be a harm for which you could seek compensation.

 

In your case, you have not stated any quantifiable harm attributed to the second diagnosis. If I'm missing something on this issue, please let me know. Otherwise, you just don't have a cause of action.

 

As to "specific court cases or laws" to support my position, no, I do not have any such thing. This is just a basic principle of law, you cannot seek redress if you have no basis.

 

Feel free to let me know if anything requires clarification.

 

 

Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.

Joseph
Joseph, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience: I have 15 years experience in the legal field, currently specializing in criminal and family law
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
But, losing an arm is an extreme situation. What about something that's closer to what I'm experiencing?

What about pain in my elbows? I do experience some pain in them. Would this constitute as "harm" that I am experiencing?

Or, would it have to be something relating to money? I know that you did mention that harm had to be something quantifiable, so would pain fit this requirement or would it have to be something relating money like losing a job?
Lawyer: Joseph, Attorney replied 6 years ago
Would the pain be any less if the second doctor had made a correct diagnosis?
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
By the way, I'm not yet satisfied by your answer. I only accidentally clicked on "accept" and I am going to have that corrected.

I just wanted to add something, I was asking if you're saying that I don't have a case because you don't see how the misdiagnosis caused me harm. So, then I can't file a lawsuite against a doctor for simply being wrong?
Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Also, in response to your last comment, I think that it might be less if the second doctor made the correct diagnosis because then I could get the correct treatment.

Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Please don't just assume that we're finished and answer my question. I just want to get answers to the problems that I'm experiencing.
Lawyer: Joseph, Attorney replied 6 years ago

I have assumed nothing. I will continue trying to satisfy so as to earn the accept. And, of course, you are free to handle the accept as you deem appropriate.

 

While you can legally sue a doctor for being wrong, no attorney would take on such a suit. For there to be any viable cause of action, there must be some harm. Without any harm, there can be no compensation. Without compensation, the attorney won't get paid. Like any other business person, we need to be paid for our services. Otherwise, we can't pay a salary to our staff, pay the mortgage and keep the lights on.

 

CAN you sue with there being no harm directly attributable to the doctor? Sure. SHOULD you sue in such a situation? Absolutely not, there would be no compensation and it would end up costing you money.

 

 

Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.

 

 

 

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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
So, harm is soley defined as something that costs money, or does pain also constitute as harm?

If I eventually had to get surgery on my elbows, then would I have a "viable cause of action"? Would the doctor have to pay for my medical bills if I did eventually have to be treated for degenerative arthritis?
Lawyer: Joseph, Attorney replied 6 years ago

"Harm" does not solely mean "something that costs money". However, it would need to be equated to money.

 

Using my earlier example of losing an arm, surely we would all agree that there is a "value" to the lost arm. The exact amount would be hugely contingent upon the person's age and what they did for a living. If the person was a 25 year old professional football player, that arm could easily be worth ten million dollars.

 

Conversely, if the person were 85, retired and dying from some unrelated issue, the arm would be worth much less, perhaps $50,000.

 

So yes, pain could certainly be considered harm. A good example is a personal injury lawsuit arising from a car accident. The person may have no visible injuries but might suffer from constant neck or back pain. This would certainly constitute harm and would be the basis of a viable lawsuit.

 

As to your questions regarding a hypothetical surgery, the answers would depend on several factors. First and foremost, you would need to be able to attribute the surgery directly to the doctor's missed diagnosis. In other words, you would need to prove that, but for his diagnosis, you would not have needed the surgery. If you could do that, then yes, you would have a viable lawsuit. In that event, his insurance would likely cover all of your related medical expenses as well as providing compensation for all related issues.

 

 

Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.

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Lawyer: Joseph, Attorney replied 6 years ago

I am going off-line for the evening. Please feel free to respond, if necessary, and know that I will be back on-line tomorrow.

 

Thank you for your patience.

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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
I'm a programmer at the age of 27. Last night, in the gym, I was doing dumb bell curls and found that my left hand was so weak that I had a hard time holding the dumb bell. I don't normally weight lift or exercise regulrarly at all, so I don't think that the weakness in my left hand was caused by dumb bell curls.

I wanted to go see the orthopedist, not to discuss whether or not I had arthritis, but really what I could do do improve the arthritis and options for surgery.

I do have a hard time sleeping at night sometimes. I find that my elbows are uncomfortable and I wake up in the middle of the night. As a result, I find myself waking up later in the mornings than usual and find myself going to work a little late every day.

If I were to lose my job, as a result of my elbow, then would I be able to sue this doctor?

Not that I'm deliberately looking for a way to make money off of somebody, but the doctor made me upset when he outright denied that I had arthritis and when I pointed out that my bone in my left elbow (what he called the "medial chondral" which, according to my research, is in the knee) was sticking out he said that it wasn't. But, I really strongly disagree with him.

The neurologist was the one who pointed it out and I did notice that when I extended my arm completely, sometimes it would pop. Which leads me to believe that the bones are pressing on each other.

If I go see another neurologist to see why my left hand is so much weaker than before, I'm thinking that they'll tell me it wasn't related to a car accident that I had experienced in high school but due to the arthritis in my elbow. So, rather than keep seeing doctor after doctor, I want to make sure that if this doctor is wrong that he would be held accountable.

I don't like to be talked to like I'm an idiot, which the orthopedist made me feel, and I don't see why he just wouldn't talk to me about the causes of degenerative arhtritis in young people and go over options over surgery. I don't want to not be able to program due this elbow. I live off of my hands, I need to be able to use them.
Lawyer: Joseph, Attorney replied 6 years ago

I apologize for the delay, I went offline prior to your recent post and this is my first time back online. Regardless...

 

You have mentioned several times that you have issues with pain regarding your condition. However, you have yet to state with any clarity that your condition was caused or worsened by the incorrect diagnosis of the second doctor. Herein lies the problem with any lawsuit.

 

Please allow me to use an example from my life for purposes of illustration. Many years ago, my wife was about 20 years old. She was having significant health issues and went to see a doctor. While her symptoms suggested breast cancer, the first doctor adamantly stated that it couldn't be breast cancer as, amongst other reasons, she was "too young for breast cancer." She sought a second opinion and, sure enough, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

 

While it would have been helpful if the first doctor had made the correct diagnosis, the fact of the matter is that she had breast cancer regardless of the first doctor and his incorrect diagnosis. Additionally, and of importance to this discussion, him missing the diagnosis did not cause or worsen her illness. So, she had no viable lawsuit.

 

Please let me know if you need anything else.

 

 

Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.

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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Can you give me an example of a case where a misdiagnosis caused a person harm?
Lawyer: Joseph, Attorney replied 6 years ago

Sure, just change the facts of the example I provided with my wife. Had she not gone for the second opinion, it is quite possibly she would not have realized she had cancer, it could have gone undetected for years and spread throughout her body. Had that happened, her prognosis would have been quite poor and her life drastically shortened.

 

In that event, one could state with a high level of probability that the missed diagnosis caused harm to the patient. If so, there would have been a compelling case for medical malpractice.

 

 

Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.

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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Okay, that makes sense. If in the future, if the second doctor's not diagnosing me with arthritis were to cause me severe amount of pain, would that then be grounds for a viable lawsuit?

Lawyer: Joseph, Attorney replied 6 years ago

If you can attribute the incorrect diagnosis to any future harm then yes, you could have a viable lawsuit.

 

 

Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.

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