When Do You Need a Medical Misdiagnosis Lawyer?

A medical misdiagnosis is a breach of trust and professionalism that could lead to severe injury or death. A wrong, delayed, or overlooked diagnosis from a medical professional may become a legal matter under several circumstances. Examples include when the misdiagnosis causes injury, death, or is part of a pattern of ongoing negligence from a trusted healthcare worker.

We at Pierce Skrabanek have compiled the following examples and statistics about medical misdiagnosis, along with a basic explanation of how such cases are proven under medical malpractice law. If you need representation right away, reach out to us at your earliest convenience to discuss your circumstances by calling (832) 690-7000.

A medical misdiagnosis is an inexcusable failure of care. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you recover damages, seek financial support for ongoing treatment, and remove incompetant actors from critical healthcare jobs.

Table of Contents

What Qualifies as a Medical Misdiagnosis?
What Are the Statistics on Medical Misdiagnosis Fatalities?
What Could a Medical Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Do For You?
Testimonials for Pierce Skrabanek
Contact the Medical Misdiagnosis Attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek
Medical Misdiagnosis FAQ

A young black woman in a hospital gown gazes out a window with concern over her diagnosis.

What Qualifies as a Medical Misdiagnosis?

As a form of medical malpractice, misdiagnosis describes any of the following breaches of care:

  • Failure to diagnose: If a doctor or qualified medical professional fails to recognize and diagnose conditions like heart attack, cancer, or stroke (to name a few critical examples), the consequences could be fatal.
  • Failure to respond or admit for care: Dismissing or underestimating complaints of patients without performing diagnostic surveys (like X-rays or blood tests). This is a direct violation of healthcare oaths and protocols that could lead to worsening injury for the patient.
  • Failure to follow up appropriately: A failure to monitor for a likely complication is another form of medical negligence. Examples include watching for infection after surgery, or limiting the risk of a blood clot after discovering deep vein thrombosis.
  • Slow or delayed care: When a doctor or medical professional fails to realize the gravity and emergency of a condition, the clock is ticking. The longer the delay, the more damage is done, some of which may be irreversible. For example, a delay of care when an unborn baby is in distress could cause oxygen deprivation and brain injury.
  • Misdiagnosis: If a doctor provides an incorrect diagnosis, they provide damaging/unnecessary treatment while the true condition worsens. An example would be mistaking a heart attack for a panic attack.

A classic example of misdiagnosis still used as a teaching case today is Valentino’s Syndrome, which caused the death of Old Hollywood film star Rudolph Valentino at age 31. It’s a situation where a perforated ulcer is easily misdiagnosed as appendicitis. By treating the wrong condition, a patient undergoes unnecessary surgery to remove a perfectly functioning organ, while the real condition continues to fester untreated. The untreated condition can then go on to cause pain, further medical complications, or even death.

If you’ve suffered injuries or a delay in care due to a missed condition or misdiagnosis, call (832) 690-7000 to speak with the medical malpractice lawyers at Pierce Skrabanek about representation.

What Are the Statistics on Medical Misdiagnosis Fatalities?

Healthcare insurance in the United States is often tied to employment, and many preventative care visits are skipped because they are too expensive for families to afford. When a person finally has the time and the funds to seek medical care, it is vital that the staff is both competent and comprehensive. The statistics unfortunately do not bear that out.

According to research funded by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, and conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, out of 55,000 malpractice claims analyzed:

  • 74.1% of serious misdiagnosis claims occurred in three main categories: cancer (37.8%), vascular events (22.8%), and infection (13.5%)
  • Roughly 12 million people in the U.S. are impacted by medical misdiagnosis malpractice annually
  • Between 40,000-80,000 people die each year due to complications from misdiagnoses
  • Women and people of color are 20-30% more likely to be misdiagnosed
  • A ratio of 1 in 3 misdiagnoses result in severe injury or death
  • Misdiagnosis errors cause 10% of total patient deaths

Commonly misdiagnosed conditions include chronic illnesses like diabetes and cancer, as well as emergency conditions like pulmonary embolism or appendicitis. Rare and difficult to diagnose conditions like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, lupus, and fibromyalgia are even more likely to be overlooked.

Rare illnesses are known as “zebra” conditions, so called because doctors are often taught that the simplest explanation for symptoms is usually the correct one. The phrase in medical school is, ​​“When you hear the sound of hooves, think horses, not zebras.”

If you are injured by diagnostic failures, you are not just a statistic to the medical misdiagnosis attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek. Contact us for fierce advocacy in seeking the resources you need for proper treatment and recovery.

Misdiagnosis statistics from John Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine.

Download a copy of the “Medical Misdiagnosis Statistics” here.

What Could a Medical Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Do For You?

A lawyer proves medical malpractice misdiagnosis cases by showing four critical points of fact: a medical worker owed a duty of care to their patient; there was a breach or failure of that duty; injuries resulted from the breach; and those injuries had a substantial cost.

A successful settlement or verdict could help cover:

  • Medical bills for past and future treatment
  • Lost wages and employment-related opportunities or benefits (like health insurance)
  • Pain and suffering for the physical and mental toll endured during a preventable medical injury
  • Punitive or “punishment” damages against the negligent doctor or hospital, funds that may then be awarded to you
  • Wrongful death damages in cases where a delay in care either caused or contributed to a person’s death

Another tangible benefit of filing a lawsuit is the change it could make for future patients. Your case could prompt the delicensing of incompentant employees, new hospital policies that help avoid misdiagnosis, or a change in training so that such a grievous error is never made again.

A white female cancer patient with a seafoam-green headscarf calls a medical malpractice attorney.

Contact the Medical Misdiagnosis Attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek

A hospital or clinic is supposed to be a refuge for the ill and injured. When you arrive at a care center, the expectation is to be listened to, evaluated, and treated by competent professionals. If your condition is dismissed, overlooked, or misdiagnosed, that is extra harm caused by those who swore an oath to “do no harm.”

Medical misdiagnosis is a severe violation of trust that regularly leads to severe injury and death. If you or a loved one believe you have suffered from medical misdiagnosis, it’s vital that you reach out for legal representation right away. Medical malpractice cases carry a statute of limitations in every state that narrows your window of time to seek compensation and justice.

Pierce Skrabanek is a Texas-based personal injury law firm with national reach. We have successfully won and settled countless medical malpractice cases, including those which contained or hinged on medical misdiagnosis. Fill out our online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation, or call us at (832) 690-7000 to speak with some immediately about your case. We care about your healthcare, and will help you seek justice under the law.


The medical misdiagnosis lawyers at Pierce Skrabanek care about your healthcare—we will help you seek justice under the law for your malpractice injuries.

Testimonials for Pierce Skrabanek

Hear from previous clients who were well-served by the medical misdiagnosis lawyers at Pierce Skrabanek:

I just want to say that Paul Skrabanek and his firm are absolutely wonderful to work with. They treated me with great care and fierceness. My husband and I watched, participated, and listened to Paul fight for a settlement which we could be happy with. Many thanks to Paul Skrabanek and his firm.

– Debra S.

Michael Pierce and his team were very professional, always available (even on weekends), and very knowledgeable. We appreciate their hard work on our case and the time they took to explain every detail as our case progressed. Mike is a phenomenal attorney and we highly recommend them for your legal needs.

– Michele R.

Working with Paul Skrabanek was a very positive experience. He helped me understand the legal process as being someone who has never been a part of a lawsuit and was able to get me settled quickly and painlessly! Loved working with Pierce/Skrabanek law firm!

– Cam F.


Medical Misdiagnosis FAQ

Negligence or carelessness from a healthcare professional that causes harm may be identified as medical malpractice. Misdiagnosis is one form of medical malpractice that could include the following healthcare errors:

  • Failure to diagnose any illness
  • Failure to respond to patient distress or admit for care
  • Failure to follow up appropriately for known complications or risks
  • Slow or delayed care in emergency situations
  • Negligently diagnosing one condition as another

A mistake in diagnosis can lead to unnecessary pain and suffering, severe injury, or even death. Commonly misdiagnosed conditions include:

  • Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, Celiac’s disease
  • Emergency conditions like heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and appendicitis
  • Rare and difficult to diagnose diseases including Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, lupus, and fibromyalgia

An experienced attorney builds a medical malpractice misdiagnosis case by providing evidence of four critical points:

  1. A medical worker owed a duty of care to their patient
  2. There was a breach or failure of that duty in the form of a misdiagnosis
  3. Injuries resulted from the misdiagnosis
  4. Those injuries had a substantial cost on the patient

Along with helping to remove negligent medical staff or improve hospital protocols, a medical misdiagnosis lawsuit could help cover:

  • Medical bills for past and future treatment
  • Lost wages and employment-related benefits
  • Pain and suffering restitution
  • Punitive or “punishment” damages against the negligent healthcare employees
  • Wrongful death damages after a fatal injury

Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek at (832) 690-7000 for experienced legal representation.