From a victim’s standpoint, there may not seem to be much difference between a doctor misdiagnosing your ailment and failing to diagnose it altogether. Either one could potentially result in injury and a subsequent medical malpractice claim, right? While this part is true, the law makes a clear distinction between the two.
Misdiagnosing an illness typically entails a patient being told that they have something medically wrong with them that they don’t really have. Usually, the subsequent treatment that follows a misdiagnosis is what causes injury and harm to a patient. Additionally, when an illness is misdiagnosed, the real problem continues to go undetected and proper treatment is not administered as timely as it may require. Because of this, misdiagnosis victims are actually dealing with two issues: misdiagnosis of the actual condition and the failure to diagnose the correct medical problem.
Aside from misdiagnosis cases, there are situations in which doctors completely miss the symptoms or manifestations of a medical condition altogether. This failure to diagnose can have devastating results on the patient, particularly when the condition is life-threatening or one for which treatment is recommended be started as soon as possible. For example, a patient who is suffering from a form of cancer seeks medical treatment for unexplained symptoms he or she is experiencing as a result of the illness, however the doctor simply dismisses the patient without detecting the underlying condition, the subsequent treatment may be delayed and the patient’s health is put gravely in danger.
In cases of misdiagnosis, patient may suffer damages from the subsequent unnecessary treatment that they would not have had the condition been properly identified. Additionally, the actual illness may progress and worsen while it is going unrecognized, causing further health issues.
Failure to diagnose can have even more disastrous to the patient in that a life threatening illness may not be caught in time for it to be controlled and treated. When that is the case, it is often too late and the patient’s life can be significantly shortened as a result.
In either case, victims can and should fight back against the offending doctors and seek justice for the damages they have suffered.