Many once life-threatening diseases are now all but nonexistent because of powerful drugs. State of the art surgical procedures have the ability to completely heal injuries that were once disabling. Injuries that once threatened the careers of athletes are now easily remedied with advanced surgical procedures. As we move into the future, medical advances will only continue to improve our quality of life as they increasingly ease human suffering.
However, regardless of these advancements, obtaining the right diagnosis of a treating physician is a vital aspect of health care. A reasonably correct diagnosis provides an explanation of a patient’s health problem while informing subsequent health care decisions. An incorrect diagnosis may cause a doctor to direct some inappropriate treatment, or prescribe some useless or even dangerous medication. A new miracle drug or surgical procedure will provide little or no benefit if a physician fails to discover the true cause of a patient’s symptoms. Further problems exist if this failure causes some procedure or medication to be used incorrectly.
According to a report published in the fall of 2015, it is estimated that 5 percent of adults who seek outpatient health care each year experience an error in diagnosis. Postmortem examination research has shown that diagnostic errors account for nearly 10 percent of patient deaths over the past few decades. The report also states that diagnostic errors are the leading type of paid medical malpractice claims and, compared to other claims, are nearly twice as likely to have resulted in patient death.
Doctors have a duty of care to provide a careful and thorough examination. Anything less and a doctor may be potentially liable for negligence should harm or injury result. Doctors are not the only medical personnel that may contribute to a diagnostic error as nurses, laboratory personnel, and other medical assistants may contribute to an incorrect assessment of a patient’s condition. Factors that may contribute to a wrong diagnosis include lack of testing, improper testing and errors in reporting test results.
It is only when a condition worsens or fails to improve that a patient may realize that a treating physician made a diagnostic error. It usually requires receiving a second doctor’s examination and opinion. Also, patients who have experienced a diagnostic error should note that an experienced medical malpractice attorney and a team of medical experts may provide assistance in analyzing the instant facts to determine if there was some mistake in diagnosis.
When diagnostic errors are made, a medical malpractice claim may provide the victims of these errors or surviving family members some compensation for their losses. The attorneys at Powell Law have decades of experience in analyzing and determining whether a doctor has failed to properly treat or diagnose a patient. If you believe that you or a family member has been injured due to a doctor’s error, contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE. You don’t pay unless we win.