Malpractice Lawsuit to be Filed Over Doctor’s Alleged Misdiagnosis

Malpractice Lawsuit to be Filed Over Doctor's Alleged MisdiagnosisA lawsuit has gained attention Minnesota concerning five-year-old Jocelyn Dickhoff, who is struggling with a life-threatening muscular cancer that has been affecting her since birth, the Twin Cities Star Tribune reports.

According to the news source, the Minnesota Court of Appeals mulled whether any ruling permits the family to sue the doctor who allegedly failed to make an early diagnosis, which could potentially have allowed Dickhoff to live a healthy life.

The court is looking at one peculiarity of the state's law that discusses whether medical malpractice lawsuits can be linked to a patient's chances of survival. Minnesota law states that misdiagnosis claims must be filed after a patient's chances of survival drop from likely to unlikely.

For example, the media outlet says, if a misdiagnosis drops a person's chances from 70 to 60 percent, no action can be taken. For Dickhoff, experts say the year-long delay in diagnosing her rare cancer allegedly lowered her survival chances from 60 percent to 40 percent – below the indication of likely survival. The girl's chances have been dropped further since, and are now at 5 percent.

The Appeals Court concluded that Jocelyn would have had a greater chance of survival had it not been for the doctor's alleged negligence, and has allowed the family's medical malpractice lawsuit to proceed.

According to the American Cancer Society, less than 1 percent of all new cancer diagnoses are made on children. Every year, about 11,000 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with some form of cancer, of which 1,300 result in death.

In 2007, Dickhoff was diagnosed with stage IV alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, at which point it had already spread to various parts of her body.