Is a Failure to Diagnose Considered Malpractice?
Failing to diagnose a medical condition is considered malpractice. A doctor has a duty to provide care, which includes rendering correct diagnoses, especially for potentially life-threatening conditions.
While some circumstances make it difficult to detect a misdiagnosis, you may be able to sue a physician for malpractice if that doctor failed to detect what other competent doctors would have in the same situation and that misdiagnosis caused you significant injury.
Many Errors Constitute Malpractice
Malpractice is founded on the concept of negligence. In order to have a strong claim against a physician, you must demonstrate that the doctor’s action or inaction did not meet their field’s accepted standard of care and that malpractice led to a significant injury. Malpractice can include:
- Medication errors
- Surgical mistakes
- Testing errors
- Birth injuries
- Failure to diagnose
- Late diagnosis
Medical mistakes can have severe consequences. In fact, Johns Hopkins Medicine reported in 2016 that medical errors are the United States’ third leading cause of death, accounting for 10 percent of all deaths.
These errors do not have to be direct actions. Delaying a life-saving procedure, missing crucial evidence of a specific condition, or leaving behind surgical equipment after a procedure are all scenarios where an absence of action could constitute medical malpractice. In other words, medical negligence can be passive.
Explaining the Four Elements of Negligence
Proving negligence in medicine requires satisfying these key points:
- You and your healthcare provider had a doctor-patient relationship.
- The doctor’s action or inaction did not meet the standards expected of physicians.
- That action or inaction led to your injury.
- Your injury entitles you to seek compensation.
Many medical malpractice cases hinge on demonstrating that the doctor breached the standard of care. A 2011 article in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine describes that standard as to what another competent doctor would do if they were confronted with the same circumstances.
The question is whether another doctor would have come to the same conclusion in your case. If the answer is no, you may be able to hold the negligent physician liable.
Explaining What Constitutes Failure to Diagnose
Failure to diagnose includes misdiagnoses and late diagnoses. Whether your condition was never determined, concluded to be something else, or discovered too late, if the doctor did not take proper care in evaluating your symptoms, they could be held negligent. To prove that there was a breach of the standard of care, you will also have to use evidence to connect the doctor’s negligent act to an injury.
Misdiagnosis can have devastating effects on a patient’s prognosis. Some of the types of damages that may result include:
- Performing unnecessary operations
- Medication errors or side effects due to misdiagnosis
- Symptoms not responding to treatment due to a late diagnosis
- More intense treatment required due to missed symptoms
- Illness recurrence
- Decreased chance of survival
- Wrongful death
You may have been diagnosed with a minor illness only to realize you need treatment for a serious one. The opposite can also happen, with patients undergoing costly, stressful treatment only to discover that they were incorrectly diagnosed. These are all examples of medical malpractice.
Medical Errors That Lead to Diagnosis Failures
Some medical conditions are genuinely difficult to diagnose, and the law does not expect all doctors to have 100% accuracy. However, mistakes that lead to diagnosis malpractice are ones that could have been avoided, such as:
- Misreading or ignoring test results
- Not performing necessary tests
- Testing errors
- Not considering a condition as a possibility
- Failing to refer to or consult a specialist
- Not gathering necessary information from a patient
- Making assumptions about a patient’s health or history
Much like lawyers, doctors rely on having as much information as possible. Therefore, your physician should always take steps such as obtaining family and personal medical history, considering other medical records, and assessing your health needs based on data–rather than assumptions.
Moreover, a doctor who does not correctly record, read, or evaluate that data could also be considered negligent.
When the Negligent Party Was Not a Doctor
Not all malpractice suits are the fault of a physician. For instance, if your misdiagnosis was based on a faulty test, the negligent party in your case could have been an x-ray technician, testing lab or nurse. Parties who may be responsible for failure to diagnose include:
- Lab technicians
- Physical therapists
- Healthcare workers
You may not know who to hold accountable for the failure to diagnose, but a medical malpractice attorney can determine this on your behalf.
Contact our office today to learn how we can help with your failure to diagnose case. Call (646) 692-0204. We have been fighting for victims of malpractice in the New York City metropolitan area since 1988. We only earn a fee when you recover compensation.
Not all bad results in medicine are necessarily the result of malpractice. If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, call the experienced and dedicated lawyers at Dansker & Aspromonte Associates. Working on your behalf, we will conduct a careful and thorough investigation of your claim, gather all of your medical records and consult with medical experts to determine if the care rendered and damages sustained constituted a breach of the standard of care. The evidence we may use could include:
- Test results and comparisons
- Medical records
- Photographs of injuries
- Witness testimony
- Expert analysis
Dansker & Aspromonte Associates Can Fight For You
Failure to diagnose is considered malpractice. If your doctor did not uphold their duty and missed crucial information about your condition, call Dansker & Aspromonte Associates. Our goal is to obtain the best possible recovery for your malpractice suit.
Contact us today at (646) 692-0204 to learn more about how our team can help.
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