Medical Malpractice: Misdiagnosis and Diagnostic Errors
Medical professionals are tasked with the great responsibility to keep patients safe and not commit medical negligence or medical malpractice. However, in some medical cases, physician, doctor, or other healthcare provider make mistakes they should never commit. When a medical treatment or diagnosis mistake occurs, it can lead to major injuries or death.
One of the most common acts of medical negligence or mistakes in the healthcare sphere is diagnostic errors. Diagnostic errors can waste time, money, and usually result in worsening the condition of patient’s health or treatment outlook.
The following are the most common types of diagnostic errors and what you need to know about this type of medical malpractice or medical negligence.
What is a medical diagnostic error?
A diagnostic error occurs when a physician misses a diagnosis, delays it, or recommends a wrong diagnosis. Oftentimes, a patient may suffer great health challenges due to the lack of treatment for the original condition from which they suffer. Added to this, medications or treatment procedures that have been recommended for the misdiagnosed condition may also harm the patient. When a health condition is mis-diagnosed, it typically results in causing additional pain or treatment needs for the patient, which only adds to the medical needs of the patient.
Are diagnostic errors regarded as medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is established when one or both of these factors exist in your case:
- Negligence – medical malpractice can be proved on the basis of the doctor’s negligence to properly diagnose the medical condition, failure to give accurate information to the patient regarding the condition, or errors during surgical and other procedures.
- Recklessness – Medical malpractice can also be proved when the doctor has been established to be reckless in the conduct of the surgical or other procedures.
When diagnostic errors are not classed as medical malpractice
Certain circumstances can lift the charge of medical malpractice in the event of a diagnostic error.
- Worsened condition – when a patient’s condition worsens over time due to the inability of the doctor to treat the illness – which may have been classified as untreatable, then the doctor may be free of medical malpractice charges. However, such a physician must have demonstrated reasonable care and skills in the management of the condition experienced by the patient.
- Untreatable conditions – certain conditions are medically untreatable. In such cases as this, the doctor may be free of a medical malpractice charge. However, the doctor must have satisfactorily proven beyond doubt that he/she had not acted recklessly or carelessly.
Common diagnostic errors
An increase in diagnostic errors, as well as medical malpractice cases, has been noted across the United States. Common types of medical diagnostic errors include:
- Delayed diagnosis – This happens when a doctor fails to make the right diagnosis in time. Delayed diagnosis may cause the condition to worsen over the time it has been left undiagnosed.
- Failing to diagnose an unrelated disease – this happens when the doctor rightly diagnoses one condition affecting the patient but fails to identify another unrelated disease that the patient suffers from.
- Failure to diagnose related diseases – this happens when the doctor rightly diagnoses a condition but fails to extensively diagnose other health problems that are related to the earlier diagnosis.
- Failure to recognize complications – In this case, a doctor is able to recognize the condition through diagnosis but has failed to recognize the complicating factors that may change the mode of action or aggravate the condition suffered by the patient.
- Missed diagnosis – this occurs when there is an oversight, causing the doctor to certify the patient healthy whereas, such a patient is battling a disease or illness.
- Misdiagnosis – occurs when the doctor diagnoses the wrong illness.
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