Patients seek medical care from their physicians in order to have a problem treated and hopefully cured. When a patient receives a misdiagnosis, negative impacts can snowball. In fact, diagnostic error is becoming the most prevalent medical malpractice issue in the United States.
What Is a Diagnostic Error?
Diagnostic error is the misdiagnosis or the delay of an accurate diagnosis. Failure to diagnose puts the patient at risk for developing complications for inadequate and inaccurate treatment of the actual condition. Johns Hopkins researchers reported last year that diagnostic errors inflicted the most damage where medical negligence is concerned, exceeding damages caused by surgical error and improper dosages. Incidents of misdiagnosis may go unreported or they may be overlooked compared to the more obvious surgical errors.
Proving Diagnostic Error
To prove diagnostic error, the patient must have sustained physical injury or illness due to the negligent behavior of the doctor, specifically inaccurately diagnosing a condition or not identifying a diagnosis in time for corrective treatment. An accurate and concise diagnosis is not guaranteed, so the behavior of the doctor needs to be considered for whether or not it meets the medical standard of care. Essentially, this means asking if another doctor of comparable skill and experience opt for the same diagnosis. In cases involving a diagnostic error, the answer would be no.
Reasons for Diagnostic Errors & Proving an Error Occurred
Many diagnostic errors occur because the doctor orders tests that come back with inaccurate or contaminated results caused by equipment failure or human error.
Patients have the obligation to prove that medical negligence happened. In regards to a diagnostic error, the patient would have to determine how the doctor arrived at the wrong diagnosis or why a diagnosis was delayed. For example, if test results were contaminated by a lab tech, the patient would need evidence of the incident.
A diagnostic error indicative of malpractice results in a worsened condition or other negative impact on the patient’s health. Receiving the wrong treatment or receiving no treatment at all can put the patient at a significant risk of developing a more serious form of the condition, such as with cancer. Early detection may provide a chance for remission, whereas a delayed diagnosis could allow the patient to lapse into late-stage cancer that is no longer treatable. Occasionally, a misdiagnosis can cause unnecessary emotional distress, anxiety, and depression as well as participating in unnecessary treatment.
Medical negligence of this nature can quickly become complicated. Proof is needed to indicate that the doctor missed significant signs or symptoms of a diagnosis, ordered inappropriate or irrelevant tests, or misread and/or made a diagnosis based on inaccurate results. An experienced attorney familiar with medical law and personal injury can help ascertain whether proof exists to develop a medical malpractice case. If a diagnostic error is suspected, contact the Fernandez Firm today to receive the legal representation warranted for a personal injury of this nature. The Fernandez Firm has the experience and skill to protect your rights as a patient. Call today or fill out our contact form and we will get back with you.