Holding doctors accountable when they don’t diagnose properly

Firm News | December 31, 2018

Medicine can be a high-stress career. Doctors may have to make life-and-death decisions for patients. A mistake they made could cost someone their health, their mobility or even their life. However, doctors typically receive excellent compensation for the high-stress work that they do, and it is not too much to expect that they live up to the standards set by the medical community in which they practice.

Patients pay to have an expert opinion of their health and a diagnosis of any conditions impacting their well-being. Diagnosis is one of the most critical parts of medicine. When doctors fail to adequately investigate the causes of symptoms, patients often end up paying the price.

Delayed diagnosis can leave someone suffering with untreated symptoms for months, long after they’ve paid for a visit with the doctor. In the case of progressive conditions, like cancers, a delay can be the difference between a treatable condition and a terminal one. Doctors who fail to diagnose patients may end up facing medical malpractice lawsuits as a result of that failure.

Patients place their lives in the hands of doctors

When you go to the doctor, you expect them to pay attention to you when you report symptoms to help the doctor determine what causes them. You rely on their knowledge and expertise to order the right tests, perform the correct examinations and refer you to specialists who can perform services they cannot.

The standard diagnostic procedure requires that doctors rule out any potential cause for a condition before jumping to conclusions. Unless there is an affirmative test, like there is for strep throat, doctors need to explore and rule out other possible causes for a symptom.

When a doctor assumes symptoms relate to a minor condition instead of properly ruling out more serious ones, patients can wind up undiagnosed for long periods of time. Delayed diagnosis can have a profound impact on the life and happiness of a patient. That is why it is critical that doctors adhere strictly to best practices in their attempt to diagnose patients, instead of rushing through to the most obvious or likely cause for the symptoms.

Medical malpractice claims help families recover losses

Sometimes, medical malpractice results in injuries that require additional medical treatment. Other times, medical malpractice involves a failure to diagnose a patient, which leads to complications. In that situation, either the patient who did not receive an accurate diagnosis or their surviving family members may have legal grounds to bring action against the doctor.

A medical malpractice claim based on failure to diagnose holds a doctor accountable for mistakes that impact the lives of their patients. It helps other patients by creating a record of serious past medical issues. These claims can also provide financial compensation to families that offset the costs they incur as a result of a doctor not diagnosing a condition or illness properly.