Although the majority of healthcare professionals practice medicine with integrity and provide sufficient care to their patients, those that fall short of this standard should be held accountable for their actions. Medical error contributes to the loss of millions of dollars and thousands of patient lives every year. Two of the most common medical errors include misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, which can have devastating, even fatal, consequences. If you or a loved one are seeking representation for a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis lawsuit, schedule a complimentary consultation at Oklahoma's Tawwater Law Firm today.
A patient seeking medical attention, whether at the emergency room, urgent care clinic, or doctor’s office, has the right to treatment held to a certain standard of care. Medical professionals have a duty to use their education, training, and diagnostic tools, including blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and electrocardiograms (EKGs), as part of the initial examination.
Negligence at the diagnostic stage can occur when a serious condition is not properly diagnosed in a timely manner (failure to diagnosis), or when the condition is incorrectly diagnosed (misdiagnosis). In both situations, the patient does not receive the treatment needed to cure them, or prevent their symptoms from worsening. Although mistakes should never happen, not all improper diagnoses can be classified as medical negligence. If the diagnostic error does not result in a serious adverse outcome, or if the disease was too far advanced for the correct treatment to make a substantial difference in the patient’s health, legal action may not be appropriate.
As part of the expected standard of care, physicians employ a method called differential diagnosis that is used to rule out possible life-threatening diseases that may be the cause of presenting symptoms. For example, an older patient with chest pain and shortness of breath might receive a differential diagnosis of heart attack. Tests would then be run to determine if a heart attack was in fact causing the symptoms.
In this situation, a failure to diagnose might involve not requesting the appropriate diagnostic tests, or running them too late. A misdiagnosis might refer to the doctor misreading the test reports, or ignoring or not believing the patient’s reported symptoms. If medical negligence during diagnosis causes a patient's condition to drastically worsen, in this case causing severe heart attack or death, then legal recourse may be recommended.
In short, misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose lawsuits may be predicated on:
Regardless of you or your loved one's unique situation, we can evaluate your case for free and determine if it is suitable for legal action.
Tawwater Law Firm, PLLC has been representing the people of Oklahoma for nearly forty years in a variety of malpractice cases, including misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose. Contact us today to learn more about the services we provide, and how our expertise can help you begin the road to recovery.