Medical malpractice does not always happen in an emergency room, on an operating table, or at a rehabilitation center. Negligence can occur during diagnostic tests. Before a healthcare provider takes care of a patient, the healthcare provider might have already committed medical malpractice by making a serious diagnostic error.
Medical negligence caused by diagnostic errors is a serious problem in the United States. On average, an incredible 12 million adults are victims of diagnostic negligence every year. The question is not does diagnostic negligence happen in the healthcare industry.
Instead, the question is “What are the types of medical diagnostic errors.”
Many diseases and injuries share similar symptoms. If a healthcare provider fails to follow the standard of care for diagnosing a disease or an injury, then the healthcare provider can face a civil lawsuit for medical malpractice.
Let’s say a patient has suffered a heart attack. The tending physician misdiagnoses the heart attack as an acute case of anxiety or indigestion. A few days pass and the patient suffers a much more serious heart attack that can be fatal. Other examples of wrong diagnoses include diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome instead of lupus, as well as signing off on a flu diagnosis when in fact the health issue is Lyme disease.
Missing a Diagnosis
Some patients suffer from a disease or an injury, and the healthcare provider responsible for diagnosing the disease or injury fails to detect the symptoms. This might seem difficult to do in an era of advanced medical diagnostic equipment. However, physicians can miss a diagnosis by using the wrong equipment or conducting a preliminary examination that misses the signs of an injury or illness. A missed diagnosis means no treatment, which can lead to a major health crisis.
“Better late than never” does not apply to medical diagnoses. A delayed diagnosis, even if it just a few hours, can be the difference between life and death. Early intervention might have prevented a serious disease or injury from becoming a life-threatening health issue. Delayed diagnostic tests happen for several reasons, with the most common reason being a healthcare provider who is behind completing a medical procedure on another patient. Patients might also experience diagnostic delays because of equipment malfunctions.
Getting One Right, But Failing to See Another
Many patients suffer from more than one disease or injury. Think car accident victims and people that suffer from diabetes. Nailing a diagnosis for one disease or injury does not mean the healthcare provider is out of the woods. Medical negligence also includes missing a second, third, or fourth illness or injury.
Not Recognizing Complications
A healthcare provider can make an accurate diagnosis on a patient, but fail to detect the possible complications that influence how a disease or an injury develops. The result is patients with undetected medical complications do not receive the comprehensive medical treatment they deserve.
Diagnostic Mistakes in an Emergency Room
Emergency rooms are the ideal environment for healthcare providers to make diagnostic mistakes. The chaos alone can distract a healthcare provider, but the most common culprit of diagnostic errors made in an emergency room is time. Because most emergency room cases require healthcare providers to work super-fast, they can miss a diagnosis or forget to conduct diagnostic tests on a patient. Another diagnostic mistake in an emergency room that is born out of chaos involves misidentifying x-rays.
Filing a Lawsuit for Diagnostic Errors
Filing a civil lawsuit for diagnostic errors follows the same legal principles that apply to surgical and prescription drug mistakes. First, you have to prove the healthcare provider neglected to meet the standard of care required for your illness or injury. Second, you also have to prove the act of medical diagnostic negligence caused you harm.
Proving a healthcare provider harmed you can lead to the awarding of monetary and possibly non-monetary damages. Monetary damages cover the costs of medical bills and the wages lost because of the time used for rehabilitating from a disease or an illness. Non-monetary damages cover harder to prove things, such as the emotional toll diagnostic negligence took on a patient.
Speak with a California Medical Malpractice Attorney
By hiring an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, you have an advocate who can help you gather and organize the evidence that proves medical malpractice because of one or more diagnostic errors. Obtaining medical documents about any diagnostic procedure is the key to winning your case.