Doctors go through a number of diagnostic steps when a patient comes to them with health issues. At any point during this process, a physician may fail to order the correct tests and/or misread results, which can result in a missed or incorrect diagnosis. These types of missed diagnoses can seriously impact the type of treatments that patients receive.
Missed diagnosis is the second most common cause of medical professional liability claims, and currently makes up roughly 33% of all medical professional liability claims. While other fields of medicine have seen an improvement in malpractice cases over the past decade, diagnosis has actually worsened. And unfortunately, diagnosis-related failures are more common – and often more severe – than other types of malpractice cases.
There are several ways doctors may cause a misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis:
- Failure to include a symptom or potential problem on the initial diagnosis list
- Failure to properly administer or read a test
- Failure to respond quickly enough to an urgent health problem, leading to a delayed diagnosis
Radiologists and general care practitioners are often named in these types of lawsuits, but other care providers may also be held responsible. About 80% of lawsuits against radiologists claim that harm occurred due to a misinterpretation of diagnostic tests.
Requirements of Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose Cases
If you want to bring a medical malpractice claim against a provider, you must prove three vital elements:
- The doctor-patient relationship was established when the diagnostic error occurred
- The doctor’s error constituted negligence
- You suffered harm as a result of the doctor’s negligence
Doctors are held to a standard of care whenever they treat patients. The courts judge a doctor’s actions based on what a reasonably competent doctor would do in similar circumstances. If the doctor’s actions are similar to what any other skilled provider would have done, their actions will not be considered malpractice and your case will be dismissed.
Damages in Missed Diagnosis Cases
Missed diagnosis claims are often very costly for the care provider and their malpractice insurance provider. A missed diagnosis can lead to a delay in treatment, resulting in greater medical expenses and a need for more aggressive treatment. Almost 80% of missed diagnosis cases involve death or permanent injury to patients.
A medical malpractice lawyer must demonstrate that a doctor’s diagnostic failure caused foreseeable and avoidable harm. Damages vary widely in missed diagnosis cases, but will often include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of quality of life
Choose a Skilled Medical Malpractice Attorney
If a missed diagnosis has harmed you or someone you love, it’s important to have a medical malpractice expert on your side. Get a free consultation for your medical malpractice case by calling Dennis A. Lopez & Associates at (813) 670-3296.
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