What is Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose?
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.
A Closer Look
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.
Qualifications for Your Claim
In short, misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose lawsuits may be predicated on:
- Presented symptoms that should have led a competent professional to consider the correct diagnosis
- Improper administration and reading of appropriate tests
- A lack of timely testing and diagnosis
- The condition could have been cured, or deterioration of the patient's health prevented, with the correct diagnosis in a timely manner
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.
Schedule a Consultation Today
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.