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Is your doctor to blame for reaching the wrong diagnosis?

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

The symptoms of a chest cold and of early lung cancer are actually quite similar. You may have already learned this lesson the hard way by trying to determine your medical condition using an internet search.

When you see a broad range of deadly medical conditions that present the same basic symptoms you have, you might rush to the worst possible conclusion. Unfortunately, one of the more common forms of medical malpractice involves a doctor effectively doing the opposite.

They reach a conclusion without adequate testing and end up misdiagnosing their patients. Often, they diagnose someone with a minor health issue, like a cold, when they have a condition that will progress and potentially endanger their life. Is your doctor to blame if they send you home telling you to push fluids and monitor your temperature when it turns out that you later have cancer?

Diagnostic mistakes are surprisingly common

With all of the training that doctors have related to the proper diagnosis of medical conditions, you might assume that they would be very careful about announcing what they believe causes a patient’s symptoms. After all, proper diagnostic work is key to successful treatment.

However, many doctors work for a hospital or corporate medical practice that requires that they see dozens of different patients every single shift. Instead of listening to patients in depth and then carefully considering the situation and potentially ordering additional testing, doctors often rush to the simplest and most likely conclusion.

This lack of attention to detail is largely why there are roughly 12 million medical diagnostic mistakes in the United States every year and why between 40,000 and 80,000 people die because of diagnostic delays or failures.

Diagnostic failure is a form of medical malpractice

Doctors should absolutely follow standard diagnostic procedures with every patient, no matter how basic their symptoms seem. They should rule out more serious conditions before reaching a diagnosis unless there is a means of securing an affirmative diagnosis, possibly through specialized testing.

Those diagnosed with the wrong condition or not diagnosed at all may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim against the physician that reached the wrong conclusions regarding their true diagnosis. Pursuing a medical malpractice claim after a diagnostic failure may be the only way to get a doctor or the hospital that employs them to change the practices that led to the diagnostic mistake in your case.