Cases of alleged medical malpractice that involve a misdiagnosis ordinarily center on an accusation of negligence on the part of the doctor. The complaint will generally claim that the doctor either knew, or at least should have known that his or her diagnosis was incorrect.
Less common, but still potentially damaging to a patient is a situation in which a doctor allegedly purposefully misdiagnoses his or her condition. That is, however, the basis of a federal grand jury indictment against a dermatologist who was evidently using his patients to further a scheme of fraud, identity theft and obstruction of justice.
According to the indictment, the dermatologist in question would deliberately misdiagnose patients at his skin and laser surgery centers, claiming that they had skin cancer. He would then perform unnecessary surgery on those patients and allegedly fraudulently bill the patients’ health insurance providers for those surgeries.
On other occasions, the dermatologist allegedly billed health insurers for surgeries that he never performed.
The dermatologist also allegedly engaged a dermatopathologist in Connecticut to evaluate, diagnose and prepare pathology reports for biopsy slides, which the dermatopathologist would then allow the dermatologist to claim as his own work.
The reason why the Connecticut dermatopathologist allowed the dermatologist to falsely claim to have done the biopsy work was supposedly to avoid being accused of medical malpractice.
At the moment, it seems that the dermatologist’s court problems are criminal and not civil in nature. But any time that a health care professional misdiagnoses a condition and then performs an unnecessary surgery, the possibility of a medical malpractice claim cannot be discounted if the patient can show that he or she was harmed then.
Source: FairfaxTimes.com, “McLean dermatologist charged with health care fraud,” Gregg MacDonald, Aug. 15, 2014