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Warning Signs of Medical Malpractice

Man complaining to doctor of back pain

The term “medical malpractice” brings to mind a number of unpleasant topics, from surgical errors to birth injuries. However, what you may not realize is that those are extreme examples. It’s not uncommon for medical malpractice to occur right in your typical family doctor’s office. But what are some of the more common instances of medical malpractice, and how can you identify the warning signs?


Misdiagnosis is not only the most common kind of medical malpractice (12,000,000 cases in the U.S. each year, according to the BMJ), but it leads to a cascade of other problems as doctors move forward with an incorrect diagnosis. About 15% of all misdiagnoses have life-changing or even fatal consequences.

A misdiagnosis is extremely dangerous for two reasons: First, the root cause of the injury is not being treated. That means that treatment might address individual symptoms while the actual disease worsens over time. The second issue is that incorrect treatment and medications can negatively interact with the root cause of the illness, potentially making an incorrect treatment worse than doing nothing at all.

Any new diagnosis should consider your family history, personal medical history, racial background, and current medications. A diagnosis that does not look at all angles is an incomplete diagnosis. For that reason, if you are ever diagnosed with a rare illness or if your doctor jumps to a diagnosis without testing, it’s advised that you seek a second opinion to confirm. Science is repeatable, which means that any doctor of similar skill should be able to reach the same diagnosis.

Diagnosis Without Testing

Similar to misdiagnosis is when your doctor claims that you have a condition without any testing or investigation to demonstrate that diagnosis. For example, your doctor should not diagnose or treat you for high cholesterol or low iron if they haven’t ordered any bloodwork.

Similarly, if your doctor answers your concerns with a treatment plan or medication prescription without telling you what they are diagnosing you with, it may be wise to seek a second opinion and a medical malpractice attorney.

Excessive Testing

While no testing is dangerous, too much testing can be just as harmful. If your doctor is ordering repeat blood work, imaging, or other tests in a short time frame, it could be a sign of either medical negligence or insurance fraud.

In most cases, doctors should start with broad testing and move on to more extensive tests as they need more information. For example, if you have a hairline fracture, the first step should be an x-ray to identify the crack, rather than a CT scan or MRI.

While testing is important, too many tests can quickly become too expensive for most people to cover. For that reason, if your doctor orders multiple tests of the same kind within a short time, it may be wise to discuss your options with a medical malpractice or insurance bad faith attorney.

Worsening Condition

If you’ve followed your doctor's advice and you feel significantly worse, it may be time to look into either a second opinion or a medical malpractice claim. If following a doctor’s advice ever makes you extremely weak or sends you to the hospital, you should contact your attorney immediately.

If a doctor of similar skill would give you a dramatically different treatment, it is more likely that you experienced medical malpractice. When your health is on the line, you can’t risk taking bad advice. If you suspect something is wrong in the doctor’s office or if you’ve been seriously injured because of medical negligence, call your attorney.

If you experienced medical negligence that resulted in serious injury, don’t hesitate to call upon Maring Williams Law Office. Our firm serves injured parties across North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana. Send us an email or call us today at (701) 402-6644 for a free consultation.