For a patient who has a serious medical condition, time is a critical and significant asset. If a disease is diagnosed in time there are options. However if the disease or illness is not diagnosed in a timely manner, there are not as many treatment options available, and those that do exist can be very invasive or painful.
The failure to diagnose or the misdiagnosis of a medical condition is a very common form of medical malpractice. It is the failure of a physician to identify and treat a medical condition appropriately, when the physician either fails to identify the problem entirely or does not identify the problem correctly. It accounts for about 40 percent of the cases filed.
The reasons a physician may fail to properly diagnose a condition include:
- Delaying referral of a patient to a specialist
- Failing to perform regular screenings (especially for high-risk patients)
- Failure to recognize any potential indications that there is a problem
- Failure to pay attention to and act should a patient complain of symptoms
- Failure to order the appropriate tests when indicated
- Failure to conduct a physical examination properly
- Failure to properly read x-rays and mammograms
- Failure to provide a patient with adequate follow-up care, such as follow up test results or ordering additional tests
- Misdiagnosing a tumor as benign
- Misinterpreting test results
Conditions that physicians most often misdiagnose or fail to diagnose include:
- Appendicitis – Oftentimes, appendicitis is misdiagnosed for conditions that are less serious, such as indigestion and the flu. Delaying diagnosis can lead to serious medical complications that will require extensive medical treatment. Death can also result.
- Bladder Cancer – If it is detected early, bladder cancer can be treated in most cases. However if diagnosis is delayed, the cancer can spread into the nodal system, limiting the patient’s chance of survival.
- Cancer – When not detected early, cancer can spread to other parts of the body, leading to death.
- Colon Cancer – This type of cancer will often go undetected before becoming life threatening. If a patient is showing signs of colon cancer they should be screened as soon as possible.
- Diabetes – The failure to treat diabetes properly can result in a patient’s severe harm or death.
- Esophageal Cancer – This is a rare and deadly form of cancer. Difficult and painful swallowing are the warning signs.
- Heart Attack – All too often emergency rooms and doctors will send patients with heart attack symptoms home. The result can be death or grievous injury.
- Liver Cancer – Liver cancer is difficult to treat regardless of the stage it has been detected. When a doctor misdiagnoses this disease, wrongful death most often results.
- Lung Cancer – There is not a cure for lung cancer. However, if diagnosed in a timely manner, symptoms can be eased and life prolonged.
Failure to diagnose can result in serious harm to the patient, including medical complications, more expensive and aggressive treatments, permanent bodily injury, lower survival rates, shorter lifespan, and death. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
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