Early detection and prevention of diseases is often considered a cornerstone of patient care. However, a lesser-known phenomenon can have profound implications for patients: overdiagnosis. When medical professionals mistakenly diagnose a condition that would never have caused harm or symptoms in the patient’s lifetime, it can lead to unnecessary treatments, emotional distress and even medical malpractice claims.

What is overdiagnosis?

Overdiagnosis occurs when a medical condition is diagnosed in a patient despite the absence of symptoms or when the condition would not have caused harm if left undiagnosed. This is particularly prevalent in screening programs designed to detect diseases such as cancer, where the detection of slow-growing or indolent tumors may lead to unnecessary interventions such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider’s actions deviate from the accepted standard of care, resulting in actual harm to the patient. Overdiagnosis can be considered a form of medical negligence if it leads to unnecessary treatments or procedures that cause harm to the patient. However, proving medical malpractice in cases of overdiagnosis can be challenging, as it requires demonstrating that the healthcare provider failed to exercise reasonable care in making the diagnosis.

Medical malpractice standard of care

In Ohio, healthcare providers are held to a standard of care that is based on what a reasonably prudent provider with similar training and experience would do in similar circumstances. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the healthcare provider deviated from this standard of care by:

  • Failing to conduct a thorough evaluation of the patient’s symptoms and medical history.
  • Ordering unnecessary tests or screenings that resulted in the overdiagnosis.
  • Failing to properly interpret test results or misinterpreting benign findings as indicative of disease.
  • Recommending unnecessary treatments or interventions based on the overdiagnosed condition.

Statute of limitations

In Ohio, medical malpractice claims are subject to a statute of limitations, which generally requires that a lawsuit be filed within one year from the date of the alleged malpractice or within one year from the date the patient discovers or should have discovered the injury, whichever is later. It’s important for patients who believe they have been harmed by overdiagnosis to call the Law Offices of Tim Misny as soon as possible, to preserve your legal rights.

Patients who have been harmed by overdiagnosis may be able to recover compensation through medical malpractice claims, provided they can demonstrate that the healthcare provider’s actions fell below the accepted standard of care and resulted in harm. Call our offices today to learn more about your legal options.

Medical Malpractice