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Medical Malpractice

Proving ‘Failure to Diagnose’ in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

July 8, 2019

The most common form of medical malpractice in America is the failure to correctly diagnose a patient’s medical condition. The results of diagnostic errors can be devastating, especially when the errors involve potentially deadly conditions such as cancer. It follows that many medical malpractice lawsuits arise from these medical errors.

However, pursuing malpractice claims based on diagnostic errors can be complex and difficult. These claims are often not as straightforward as other malpractice claims, such as surgical errors. And the physicians may have more legal defenses. To navigate the potential pitfalls, patients and their loved ones will need a seasoned Billings medical malpractice attorney with experience in failure-to-diagnose cases.

What are the Different Types of Diagnostic Errors?

Diagnostic errors generally come down to the failure to accurately diagnose a medical condition. However, there are certain types of common diagnostic errors, with important differences between them.

  • Failure to Diagnose: The physician could completely fail to diagnose any medical condition or illness at all, so the medical condition goes untreated.
  • Delayed Diagnosis: The physician could accurately diagnose the condition, but the diagnosis is delayed due to physician error. The delayed treatment could prove harmful or even fatal, such as for cancer that progresses past the point of treatment.
  • Misdiagnosis: The diagnostic error might be a misdiagnosis, where the patient does not actually suffer from the diagnosed condition. The patient will have to undergo the burden of improper treatment. In addition, the patient’s true medical condition may be missed completely.

Any of these diagnostic errors could result in life-altering harm to the patient or even death.

Causes of Diagnostic Errors

There are many potential causes of diagnostic errors.  Among the most common are the following:

  • Inadequate Patient Evaluation: The physician could fail to adequately evaluate the patient in several ways. These include failure to question the patient properly, examine medical history, or order the correct tests.
  • Failure to List Condition as Potential Diagnosis: Physicians generally create a list of potential diagnoses for conditions they discover. The doctor could fail to include the correct diagnosis on their diagnosis list.
  • Testing Errors: The testing performed could produce incorrect results. This may be the result of lab error during testing. The testing equipment may malfunction or be defective. The testing sample could also be contaminated.
  • Incorrect Reading of Test Results: The incorrect reading could be of any testing result, from an X-ray or MRI to blood sample testing.

Although the above are common causes of diagnostic errors, the circumstances vary for each case. For example, miscommunication between physicians or medical staff could result in a diagnostic error. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can hone in on the specific facts of your case and how to prove liability.

Consult a Billings Medical Malpractice Attorney at Ragain & Clark, PC About Your “Failure to Diagnose” Claim

If you believe you are the victim of a medical diagnostic error in Montana or Wyoming, speak with a Billings medical malpractice attorney at Ragain & Clark, PC. We have over forty years of trial experience and a track record of success in helping patients and their loved ones recover compensation. Contact us today for a confidential evaluation of your case, free of charge.