When you have an injury or illness, you rely on your doctor to provide sound medical advice. You are entrusting your health to a medical processional, and you expect him or her to make a diagnosis and prescribe a treatment plan that will put you on the road to recovery.
While we like to think that doctors don’t make mistakes, the reality is that doctors throughout Illinois and across the country make mistakes every day. When they make mistakes that negatively impact a patient’s health, they can be held liable for medical malpractice. Two of the most common mistakes that give rise to medical malpractice claims involve (i) misdiagnosis, and (ii) failure to diagnose.
Misdiagnosis occurs when a physician treats a patient for a condition that the patient doesn’t have. In doing so, the doctor fails to treat the patient’s actual disease or injury. As a result, misdiagnosis can be extremely dangerous, and may result in prolonged and invasive treatment that does not fix – and may even exacerbate – the patient’s true ailment. By many accounts, misdiagnosis is one of the most prevalent forms of medical malpractice.
The reasons for a misdiagnosis can vary widely. Some of the most frequent causes include:
- Lack of medical knowledge
- Not considering all possible diagnoses (referred to as “premature closure”)
- Clinical, clerical and recordkeeping errors
- Failure to perform appropriate tests
- Failure to communicate or properly interpret test results
- Lack of follow-up care
The risks of misdiagnosis can be severe. One study has suggested that as many as four percent of all hospital deaths in the United States are the result of misdiagnosis.
Understanding Failure to Diagnose
While misdiagnosis involves treating a patient for the wrong condition, failure to diagnose involves not treating the patient at all. One of the most common reasons for failure to diagnose is when a doctor dismisses the patient’s symptoms as “insignificant.” You may have heard stories about people going to the hospital and being sent home – only to have their conditions worsen significantly. These are classic cases of failure to diagnose.
Failure to diagnose and delayed diagnosis can lead to devastating consequences. For patients with cancer and other serious conditions, a proper diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. Many cancers and other diseases can be treated if detected early. Nevertheless, if your doctor sends you home without treatment, the damage can be irreversible.
If you believe that you or a loved one may be suffering as a result of a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, we urge you to seek a second opinion right away. If you don’t know where to turn, the experienced team at Malman Law can provide a recommendation.
Contact Malman Law Today
Our attorneys have helped clients throughout Illinois recover millions of dollars in compensation for medical malpractice. To learn more about what we can do to help, please contact us today.