Any competent doctor or hospital that examines a patient will first seek to diagnose the patient’s illness before beginning any treatment plan. Typically a doctor will take an oral history of the patient’s complaints, family background, and current symptoms. In many cases, the medical provider will then offer diagnostic tests such as blood work, x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to determine what is causing the patient’s presenting problem. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and any medical provider can fail to diagnose a disease or medical problems in several ways.
Delayed or inaccurate diagnosis can have severe—even deadly—results
A delayed diagnosis occurs when the health provider fails to promptly recognize that the patient has a treatable disease. The delay in diagnosis can mean that the patient does not get the right treatment in time. In some cases, an immediate surgery may resolve the problem. In other cases, early intervention can slow down or even reverse the patient’s medical difficulties.
Prompt diagnosis of breast, prostate, lung or any type of cancer can often mean the difference between life and death. Chemotherapy and other interventions can eliminate malignant tumors if they are treated early enough.
An incorrect diagnosis or delayed diagnosis can occur because the doctor or medical team:
- Failed to order the correct tests
- The medical tests were administered inaccurately
- The medical tests were not read or analyzed correctly
Sometimes a doctor fails to correctly diagnosis a condition because they relied on inaccurate results from laboratory test results, radiology films, or other types of tests. This can happen in one of two ways:
- The diagnostic equipment was faulty; or
- Human error occurred—for example: the samples were contaminated or mixed up; the technician used an improper procedure; the test results were read incorrectly; or the technician or specialist missed something in an x-ray or pathology slide.
Although the doctor might not be liable for medical malpractice in this situation, another person might be—such as the technician that misread the pathology slide.
Demonstrating that the misdiagnosis harmed the patient
In a medical negligence claim, it must be demonstrated that the doctor’s incorrect or delayed diagnosis caused the patient’s injury or condition to progress beyond where it normally would have been had the correct diagnose been made in a timely manner, and that this progression had a negative impact upon treatment. For example, because of a delayed cancer diagnosis the patient had to undergo a more severe treatment regimen (such as chemotherapy) or that the patient died because the cancer had metastasized and no longer responded to treatment. Sometimes a patient can show harm even if the condition can still be treated. For example, with some cancers, a delay in treatment increases the risk of recurrence.
In cases where a doctor diagnoses a patient with a condition or illness that the patient does not have, the patient may also be able to prove harm in the form of anxiety, stress, medical problems, and expenses due to unnecessary treatment.
If you or a loved one suffered because of a medical provider’s negligence, the Miami medical malpractice attorneys at Yeboah Law Group are here to get you justice. Call us at (800) TELL-SAM to discuss your case or complete our contact form to make an appointment.