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Medical Malpractice

How Can You Be Misdiagnosed?

February 29, 2024

Diagnostic errors are one of the most common causes of malpractice claims. This can include misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses, and failure to diagnose. Given that diagnosing your illness or medical condition is the first step in getting the appropriate treatment, it seems hard to believe that this can happen. Understanding how these errors occur can help you recognize whether you have been misdiagnosed and whether you may be the victim of medical malpractice. If you believe that you have been misdiagnosed, a medical malpractice attorney can help you understand your options. 

Failure to Review Your Medical Records

People are often misdiagnosed because their doctor failed to carefully review their medical history. Your medical records contain important details that may help your doctor correctly diagnose your treatment and prescribe the correct treatment. Failure to conduct a thorough review of your medical records prior to making a diagnosis can quickly result in harm to the patient. Patients who are being seen by a new medical provider are especially at risk, as many medical practices handle such a high volume of patients that they often do not have time to properly review a patient’s history. 

Failure to Conduct an Adequate Examination

Closely related to failing to review a patient’s medical records, a misdiagnosis can occur when doctors fail to properly examine a patient. Many patients report that they feel their medical providers do not really listen to them and rush them through their appointments. In some cases, the doctors fail to ask critical questions that are necessary for assessing the patient’s condition and making the correct diagnosis. As a result, they may miss important symptoms or other details that would lead to the correct diagnosis. 

Failure to Order Tests

Tests can be a significant inconvenience for patients but are often necessary for doctors to make the correct diagnosis. If the doctor is uncertain at all about your diagnosis, they should order tests to aid them in making the proper diagnosis. Failure to order tests can lead to either a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis. Patients who would have suffered less harm to their health had they been able to get the right diagnosis earlier may be able to pursue a claim for medical malpractice. 

Testing Delays

Time is of the essence with many health issues. Delays in the testing process can result in unnecessary harm to the patient. While testing delays are typically the fault of the laboratory performing the tests, the doctor may be at fault if they fail to follow up after a reasonable amount of time has passed. 

Testing Errors

Another cause of diagnostic errors is when there are issues with the testing process. These issues can include the following:

  • Contamination of samples
  • Performing the wrong tests
  • Failure to follow testing protocols
  • Mixing up patients’ samples or results

Errors in the testing process can obviously lead to inaccurate results that will result in a misdiagnosis. In this situation, the injured patient would have a claim against the laboratory rather than the doctor, unless it is obvious that there is an issue with the test results. 

Misreading Test Results

Once the testing is complete and the results are communicated to your doctor, your doctor must review your results and determine what they mean for your diagnosis. In some instances, test results are straightforward, but they can sometimes require careful review and interpretation. Doctors undergo years of training in order to be able to read test results and use them in making the proper diagnosis. When they make mistakes in reading test results that cause harm to their patients, they can be held liable for medical malpractice. 

When Misdiagnosis Leads to a Medical Malpractice Claim

Thankfully, many diagnostic errors cause only frustration and inconvenience for patients. In other cases, however, they can result in harm – they can allow for the condition to worsen or cause other complications. If you have been harmed as a result of a misdiagnosis, you may have a medical malpractice claim. 

It is important to note that misdiagnosis cases can be difficult. Many health conditions can be very difficult to diagnose. The fact that your doctor made the wrong diagnosis does not necessarily mean that you are the victim of medical malpractice, even if you suffered harm as a result. A medical malpractice lawyer can assess your case and provide guidance as to whether you should consider pursuing a claim. 

Call Ragain & Clark to Speak with a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you have suffered harm as a result of medical malpractice, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 406-651-8888 (Billings) or 307-388-6400 (Worland) or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation and let’s discuss how we can help you.


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