What Is Medical Misdiagnosis?
Medical misdiagnosis can occur when a healthcare provider misses a diagnosis, delays a diagnosis, fails to accurately diagnose a patient, and/or fails to recognize complications that can affect a patient’s existing conditions.
It is important to note that not all misdiagnoses are caused to file a medical malpractice suit. For a lawsuit to be pursued and successful, it will have to prove that:
- The patient had a doctor-patient relationship with the guilty party and was thus owed a duty of care.
- The liable party was negligent and failed to act in a reasonable or competent manner (or in a way a reasonable person would have in the same situation).
- The liable party’s negligence caused injury to the patient.
Common Causes of Medical Misdiagnoses
Being misdiagnosed can lead to your condition worsening and even more medical expenses. Some of the common causes of diagnostic errors include:
- Failure to follow up with a patient. After an initial consultation or appointment, a doctor may prescribe a certain course of treatment to see if that helps alleviate symptoms and eliminate an illness. They should follow up with a patient to ensure the issue resolved or persisted as they may have misdiagnosed a patient.
- Failure to obtain a patient’s full medical history. Your medical history is important as it can influence what illness run in your family, what your current diagnoses are, and other relevant information. If your healthcare provider doesn’t have a complete and accurate idea of your medical history, they cannot accurately diagnose you during your appointment. You should be asked questions by your medical provider so they can better understand your medical history as well, because you may not have the necessary
- Failure to refer a patient to a specialist. Some medical providers may be overconfident in their ability to diagnose or handle a case and they fail to refer a patient to a specialist as they believe they can handle the case. However, their overconfidence can lead to a diagnostic error.
- Failure to spend an adequate amount of time with a patient. Because of a heavy caseload or influx of patients, medical providers may not take enough time to talk with a patient or understand their history, symptoms, and other relevant factors that influence a diagnosis.
- Laboratory testing or procedural issues. Diagnostic errors can occur because of issues caused by the laboratory, such as equipment malfunctions, mixing up patient labels and test, improper samples are taken, etc.
- Lack of experience. If you go to a hospital, you may be treated by a medical resident, who is a doctor but is still undergoing training. They may not have the training or experience to handle more complex cases, which can lead to a misdiagnosis. In other cases, you may be seen by a doctor with experience who still is not experienced or qualified to handle your case—if they are unfamiliar with your symptoms or condition.
- Lack of needed resources. Healthcare providers may not have access to certain testing equipment or other resources that they need to accurately diagnose patients. If they lack resources, medical professionals should refer a patient to a third party for testing or imaging before diagnosing them. However, sometimes, they try (and fail) to diagnose a patient without needed tests. Liability in these cases may then also fall to the hospital, clinic, or medical facility as well.
- Miscommunications between healthcare providers. If you have a preexisting condition or have had other medical procedures, your medical providers should exchange patient information so they can better understand your condition and the best ways to treat and diagnose you. If there is a failure to request records or a miscommunication concerning your care and health, your current healthcare provider may fail to diagnose you correctly.
- Misinterpretation of lab or test results. Your medical provider may misread or misinterpret your lab results, which can lead to a misdiagnosis.
Get Legal Help from Our Skilled Medical Malpractice Attorneys
With over 45 years of collective experience, Zayas Law Firm can help you or a loved one pursue legal action if you have suffered damages because of a misdiagnosis. Doctors owe their patients a duty of care and have a duty to diagnose them accurately. When a patient seeks care, their healthcare providers should follow accepted procedures and practices to identify, verify, and diagnose an illness or condition.
Once you retain our services, we can investigate the quality of your care and collect evidence to establish. As we mentioned, the fault can fall to a variety of persons, including but not limited to your attending physician, nursing staff, laboratory staff, and/or other staff members at your care facility. We can review your medical charts, hospital procedures, and other case-specific evidence.