It is critical for a doctor to accurately diagnose a patient’s condition in order to provide the right treatment. Tragically, there are almost 20 percent of misdiagnosed medical cases each year. When a doctor misdiagnoses a patient’s condition, this can not only cause the condition to worsen, it can result in the patient’s death. National statistics show that diagnostic errors in intensive care units result in more than 40,000 deaths each year.
It is important to note, however, that not every misdiagnosis is a case of medical malpractice. In order to be legally deemed malpractice, the medical professional must have acted negligently. A medical malpractice attorney can evaluate a case and determine if there is evidence of this negligence. Diagnostic errors are the most common type of medical malpractice awards. There are several types of diagnostic errors a patient can suffer:
- Missed diagnosis: This occurs when the doctor examines the patient and determines the patient is healthy, however, the patient actually has an illness. Since the doctor missed the illness, the patient receives no treatment for that condition.
- Incorrect diagnosis: This occurs when the doctor diagnoses the patient with the wrong condition. The patient then receives treatment for the wrong condition. This means that not only is the original condition not being treated, but the wrong treatments could cause serious medical issues.
- Delayed diagnosis: A delayed diagnosis is also considered a diagnostic error. Even though a doctor eventually comes up with a correct diagnosis, the lapse in time it took, and the delaying of treatment, can cause serious – or even fatal – health issues.
Doctors can also fail to diagnose a secondary, related disease. There are certain health conditions that often are present with other diseases and doctors should be trained to look for those conditions. Failure to diagnose a secondary disease could be legally deemed medical malpractice.
Doctors may also fail to diagnose complications that are caused by certain conditions. In other words, the doctor does diagnose the condition, but misses complications the condition is causing the patient. This failure to diagnose complications could also be considered medical malpractice. A medical malpractice attorney can evaluate your case to make that determination.
There are many different medical conditions that can be misdiagnosed by a medical professional, but the following conditions are some of the most common lawyers see:
- Celiac Disease
- Heart Disease
- Lyme Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
If you think you or a family member has been a victim of a diagnostic error, contact a good medical malpractice lawyer, to find out what legal recourse you may have.