The attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm handle medical malpractice cases, including those involving the Failure to Diagnose an injury or illness. If you have experienced a Failure to Diagnose and you believe it may have been caused by medical malpractice or medical negligence, it is in your benefit to seek out more information. Information on what a Failure to Diagnose is and what it might mean for you can be found below. Additionally, the medical malpractice attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm invite you to contact us, either at 937-228-2306 or 1-800-VERDICT for a free consultation to determine if you may have a claim for a Failure to Diagnose.
What is a Failure to Diagnose?
Failure to Diagnose occurs when there is a failure by a doctor or other medical professional to correctly identify and treat a medical condition. It is important to correctly diagnose a medical condition so that proper and timely treatment can occur. A Failure to Diagnose occurs when the doctor fails to timely recognize and categorize the signs and symptoms present in a patient that ultimately results in a final diagnosis. Until a proper diagnosis is made it is difficult and can be very dangerous to proceed with medical treatment for a patient. Even if a definitive diagnosis cannot be made immediately a doctor or medical professional should at least develop what is known as a differential diagnosis.
A differential diagnosis is a process doctors often use to try and figure out what condition a patient might have. The process is one of elimination, as doctors systematically rule out potential conditions. Generally, the doctor starts with the most serious and life-threatening conditions before moving on to the less serious. The doctor will ask about symptoms the patient is experiencing, attempting to eliminate the symptoms that are connected to multiple conditions. A battery of tests may also be ordered to further isolate the exact ailment a patient may be suffering from. This can include but is not limited to blood tests, CT scans, X-rays, MRI’s, urine analysis and countless other tests at a medical providers disposal.
An example of differential diagnosis going wrong would be a patient relaying symptoms of a heart attack to a doctor, and the doctor diagnosing gastritis or heart burn. Even though those conditions may have similar symptoms, differential diagnosis should cause the doctor focus on the possibility of a heart attack first, only allowing the doctor to move to the less serious conditions after eliminating the possibility of a heart attack. In this instance it may be prudent for the doctor to further diagnose the condition by ordering an EKG.
Some reasons why a doctor may fail to diagnosis a condition properly are:
- Unidentified pain or vague symptoms
- Symptoms are similar, making differential diagnosis difficult
- Doctor does not have training for advanced diseases
- The doctor made a choice to diagnose a condition that was easier to treat
- Doctor ordered the wrong test
- Doctor ordered no test at all
- Doctor didn’t spend enough time with the patient
- Human error such as mislabeled files or test results
The danger of a Failure to Diagnose is the subsequent lack of proper treatment. If a patient is receiving no treatment for a condition that they have, all the negative effects of that condition are occurring without anything preventing them. The longer the delay of the treatment, the worse the negative effects grow, potentially causing more harm and potentially reaching a point where they are not treatable at all, even if they had been treatable previously. If a patient is receiving treatment, but for a condition they do not have, then that treatment is likely useless. Sometimes, the treatment is even harmful on its own, such as chemotherapy used to treat cancer.
Failure to Diagnose is also dangerous because patients rely on doctors to ensure they receive the treatment they need to get better. A Failure to Diagnose can prevent that treatment from happening, and can cause serious harm as a result. In some cases, such as with heart attack or stroke, the Failure to Diagnose can lead to serious injury, permanent disability, and even death.
Some examples of serious illnesses that can be involved with a Failure to Diagnose:
- Heart attack or risk of heart attack – Failure to recognize that a heart attack occurred may prevent proper after-care. Failure to recognize increased risks of a heart attack may prevent proper treatment in order to prevent a heart attack.
- Pulmonary Embolism – This is a blockage of an artery in the lungs, often occurring after a surgery or during hospitalization. It is important for doctors to be aware of the possibility of this occurring, and to be ready to diagnose and treat it.
- Appendicitis – While symptoms may be as vague as pain in the abdomen, appendicitis carries the possibility of death if left undiagnosed and untreated.
- Stroke or risk of stroke – Much like with a heart attack, failure to recognize that a stroke occurred may prevent proper after-care. Failure to recognize increased risks of a stroke may prevent proper treatment in order to prevent a stroke.
- Meningitis – Meningitis shares similar symptoms with the flu, but can have much more severe consequences. Thus, it is important for doctors to rule out the possibility of meningitis before proceeding to diagnosing something generally less serious, like the flu.
- Pneumonia – Pneumonia can carry serious negative effects if a patient does not receive proper treatment.
- Infections – Infections can occur due to a variety of reason, and doctors should be on the lookout for some potential serious side effects that may come from an infection. This is especially true in the case of MRSA infections.
- Cancer – Patients rely on early diagnosis and early treatment for the best chances of beating cancer.
Medical and Legal Significance of a Failure to Diagnose
A doctor or medical providers Failure to Diagnose may be the basis for medical malpractice or medical negligence claim. It is the responsibility of doctors and other medical professionals to respond to the possibility of serious illness in the correct manner and with the most correct diagnosis possible. This is done through the proper consideration of both risk factors and symptoms. Many serious illnesses or medical conditions carry a number of risk factors that can increase the chance of the serious illness occurring. Doctors and other medical professionals must observe the risk factors and react to them in a proper manner. The presence of risk factors may warrant further testing or preventative treatment. Failure to monitor and address those risk factors may cause a delay in diagnosis or a complete misdiagnosis.
Similarly, other serious illnesses or conditions carry symptoms. It is important for doctors and other medical professionals to be aware of symptoms and what may be indicated by the presence of those symptoms. This may also require additional questioning of the patient, ordering of tests, or other medical procedures. Doctors and medical professionals must be sure to perform all tests and procedures in accordance with the proper standard of medical care in order to have the most accurate and complete diagnosis possible. This will ensure that a patient receives proper and effective treatment. Failure to do so is medical malpractice and/or medical negligence.
Seeking Legal Counsel and Guidance
If you have been harmed due to a Failure to Diagnose you may have a claim for medical malpractice or medical negligence. The medical malpractice attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm have the skill and experience to discover whether your medical outcome was a result of a Failure to Diagnose and whether those health issues could have been avoided or prevented. Medical malpractice and medical negligence is preventable. It is caused by the error, improper action, or lack of action by medical professionals. It is important to hold those medical professionals to the proper standards of medical care and to hold them accountable for the harms and losses they may cause. The Brannon Law Firm can help hold those at fault accountable.
Additionally, consequences of a Failure to Diagnose may be difficult, both financially and emotionally. It may be that, due to the Failure to Diagnose, a medical condition, disease, or illness may go untreated, resulting in harm, injury, and even death. If there finally is a diagnosis, it is likely delayed. That delay may mean subsequent treatment, while proper, is less effective or even worse, ineffective. Efforts to fix or reverse a Failure to Diagnose can be severe and long lasting, requiring additional medical treatment, loss of quality of life, loss of income and costly medical bills. It is important to ensure you have the assistance and care that you deserve to live the best life possible. The Brannon Law Firm can help with that process.
At the Brannon Law Firm, we have represented many individuals who were unfortunate victims of a Failure to Diagnose. We have obtained favorable verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients in Failure to Diagnose cases. We invite you to contact us, either at 937-228-2306 or 1-800-VERDICT for a free consultation. The Brannon Law Firm is proud to serve clients in Dayton and throughout the State of Ohio.