Failure to diagnose a medical condition is considered malpractice, opening up the guilty party to liability. Diagnosis failures comprise a type of malpractice that also includes misdiagnoses and late diagnoses. A doctor has a duty to provide care. If they missed something another doctor would have caught, they were negligent.
Proving Malpractice as a Breach of Care
Malpractice is based on whether a doctor deviated from the standard of care. Healthcare workers are obligated to provide adequate care to patients in diagnosing, treating, and monitoring healthcare needs. That is the standard of care.
As a result, malpractice is any action or inaction that could not be classified as providing adequate care. This could include:
- Failure to diagnose
- Late diagnosis
- Drug dosage errors
- Anesthesia mistakes
- Testing mistakes
- Surgical errors
- Birth injuries
An easy way to understand malpractice is to imagine what another doctor would do in the same circumstances with the same information and resources. If you would not have experienced the same treatment under another doctor, the physician who did treat you could be held liable.
How is Failure to Diagnose Considered Malpractice?
Some medical conditions are genuinely challenging to diagnose. However, if the doctor could have caught your injury or illness, you can pursue a malpractice claim.
Examples of diagnosis errors are:
- Inadequate information gathering
- Failure to perform tests
- Errors in conducting tests
- Mistakes in reading tests
- Failure to consult a specialist
- Failure to consider some diagnoses
In some cases, your doctor’s error could be due to a failure to try other reasonable avenues. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) points out that if a doctor does not do something that is “reasonable but not universally ‘customary,’” they can still be held liable. In other words, your doctor should have pursued any logical options to assess your condition, even if they were less common.
Consequences of Failures to Diagnose
A key point of proving a medical malpractice case is demonstrating how the diagnosis error left you injured. Some of the ways failures to diagnose can cause injury are:
- Unnecessary surgeries
- Medication errors
- Side effects from treatment
- Aggressive treatment required
- Longer recovery
- Later recurrence of illness
- Wrongful death
For example, cancer left undetected for too long may require more intense treatments and carry a higher risk of returning. Similarly, a misdiagnosis may have resulted in you being prescribed drugs unsuited for your actual condition, leaving you to suffer from dangerous side effects.
These are all consequences of that initial diagnosis error and evidence of how that negligence led you to experience pain and injury, as well as emotional and psychological distress.
Sadly, failures to diagnose can lead to untimely deaths, especially considering medical errors rank as the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Confusing diagnoses, taking too long to detect an ailment, or completely missing a life-threatening condition can all be grounds for a wrongful death suit.
Pursuing wrongful death after a diagnosis error can provide benefits to loved ones, both for remaining medical bills and for costs associated with burial. You can also receive compensation for what the deceased meant to you. A wrongful death malpractice lawyer can explain more.
Consider All Possibly Liable Parties
The standard of care is not limited to doctors. Other healthcare providers can also be held to that standard since you are also entrusting your diagnosis to them. Other possible liable parties in your case could be:
- Healthcare staff
- X-ray techs
- Lab techs
- Physical therapists
Your case may even have involved a combination of doctor and staff negligence. Malpractice cases are not limited to one person, especially if several people should have caught an error.
Evidence for a Malpractice Case
Demonstrating that a doctor committed malpractice by failing to diagnose your condition will rely on proving four key points:
- The doctor had a professional relationship with you
- The decisions made by the doctor did not uphold the standard of care
- That decision was a failure to diagnose a condition, which led to injuries
- Being injured entitles you to damages
The two main goals are to prove that another doctor would have properly diagnosed your condition and that your doctor’s failure led you to suffer consequences. We can accomplish this through:
- Medical records
- Examples of similar cases
- Tests and imaging
- Injury photographs
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
Experts are especially useful in medical malpractice. They can weigh in on what another doctor would have done and similar scenarios in which certain treatments were used. They can also translate complex medical information into terms a jury can understand.
Call Our Attorneys Today for Counsel and Communication
A failure to diagnose is considered malpractice, and you could have grounds to pursue compensation to help with treatment, recovery and even costs associated with the death of a loved one. However, you don’t have to make sense of any of that alone.