Failure to diagnose is one of the most common, and the most harmful, forms of medical malpractice. It is a medical professional’s duty to make a timely and reasonably accurate diagnosis for his/her patients. While the law does not expect doctors to always diagnose conditions correctly, it does expect certain standards of care. If a competent medical professional would have made the diagnosis in the same circumstances, the doctor may be guilty of negligence. In these situations, put your future in the hands of the talented attorneys at Anapol Weiss.
What Causes Failures to Diagnose?
It is unreasonable to expect a doctor to diagnose every patient correctly the first time. The medical field is simply too complex to avoid the occasional mistake. However, patients do have the right to expect doctors to obey the accepted standards of the medical practice. This includes listening carefully to a patient’s complaints, analyzing symptoms, and using medical knowledge and training to make a reasonable diagnosis. Any action that falls short of these standards, resulting in failure to diagnose, may be medical malpractice.
A doctor may negligently fail to diagnose if he/she does not listen to the patient, downplays his/her symptoms, does not have the proper training, is incompetent, misinterprets tests results, doesn’t order the proper tests, or works while fatigued or under the influence. A doctor may also fail to diagnose if he/she does not act according to a differential diagnosis. This entails listing all possible diagnoses in order by probability, then ruling out each one using tests and other criteria. Ignoring the accepted procedures for diagnosis is an act of negligence.
Failure to diagnose can lead to a patient going home without proper treatment. Without medication or treatment, a condition can worsen, resulting in undue harms or even death. Failure to diagnose can also result in a patient receiving treatment that he/she does not need. There are many conditions and illnesses where timely treatment is imperative to the prognosis of the patient. Many cancers, for example, rely on timely diagnosis and immediate treatment programs for a more positive outcome.
Proving Your Case After a Failure to Diagnose
To have a medical malpractice case for failure to diagnose, the plaintiff must prove his/her harms would not have occurred with a timely diagnosis. If there is no connection between the failure to diagnose and the injuries, the plaintiff will not have a case. For instance, there are some conditions where a timely diagnosis would have made no difference to the patient’s health. Failure to diagnose terminal cancer, for example, may not have any effects on the prognosis. The plaintiff must show that the doctor breached his/her duty of care, and that this breach caused harm.
Protect Your Rights After a Harmful Failure to Diagnose
As a victim of failure to diagnose, you have the right to take the responsible party or parties to court. The defendant may be a doctor and/or the hospital. Work with an attorney to properly identify the defendant(s) and file a claim with the civil courts. In Pennsylvania, you must submit a signed affidavit with your medical malpractice claim. The affidavit must state that an expert in the field is willing to make a statement about the merit of your claim. A lawyer must sign the affidavit.
Anapol Weiss has decades of experience handling medical malpractice claims, including those involving failure to diagnose. Let our team take care of the complex filing process, preliminary hearings, settlement negotiations, and trials if necessary. Help from a skilled attorney can significantly improve your chances of receiving compensation, especially in cases against large hospitals and insurance companies. Protect your rights with our legal assistance. To meet with us during a free case evaluation, call (866) 735-2792 or reach out online.