Diagnosing people is sometimes very difficult. There could be dozens of medical conditions that cause the same basic symptoms. Doctors have to take the information provided by their patients and extrapolate a likely medical cause from that information.
Of course, doctors now have access to more testing technology than in the past, allowing them to genetically sequence cancer or affirm in minutes whether a certain strain of bacteria is present in someone’s bloodstream. With so many diagnostic tools available, you probably think that your doctor will have no trouble quickly and accurately determining the cause of your symptoms.
Unfortunately, diagnostic mistakes are actually one of the most common forms of medical malpractice, and they can also lead to some of the worst outcomes.
The timing of treatment affects your chance of success
When you have a medical condition serious enough to warrant professional intervention, you will probably seek out medical evaluation as soon as the symptoms become unable to be ignored. Unfortunately, doctors sometimes jump to conclusions and assume that the issue is minor, or they don’t take a patient’s symptoms seriously and send them home without any diagnosis whatsoever.
When a doctor fails to diagnose cancer, for example, the patient may fail to seek out medical care for weeks after the initial dismissal of their symptoms. By the time they see someone who recognizes the true underlying cause of their issues, the cancer may have metastasized or spread to other parts of the body. For someone who has just had a stroke, the quicker they receive treatment, the less likely they are to suffer lasting brain damage.
When doctors turn people away without properly diagnosing them or reach the wrong conclusion, they can affect someone’s quality of life or even their likelihood of surviving.
Diagnostic failures can be actionable
If you reported specific symptoms to your doctor and most professionals would perform a certain test to rule out a specific medical condition as the underlying cause, your doctor’s failure to do so may constitute medical malpractice.
Whenever a doctor does not adhere to the standards for their profession or fails to do what another reasonable professional would in the same situation, they open themselves up to claims of medical malpractice. You could potentially receive compensation for both your medical care costs and any income that you lost because of the diagnostic mistake made by your doctor. There could be insurance available to you, or you may have grounds for a lawsuit.
Getting a second opinion and an accurate diagnosis may be the first step toward a medical malpractice claim.