Doctors are required to provide care in accordance with established medical protocols for their practices and the medical conditions at issue. These protocols have been established to increase the chances that your doctor uses the same degree of care and skill which would be expected from another reasonable and prudent doctor acting in the same or similar circumstances. In other words, your doctor’s conduct may constitute medical malpractice if his or her care (including their diagnosis) deviates from medical protocols or falls below this reasonable and prudent standard of care.
A doctor’s duty to properly diagnose can arise from at least two types of errors – the failure to order the appropriate tests; and the failure to make the proper diagnosis based on the results from those tests.
When a patient visits a doctor with a health issue, the doctor examines the patient, takes note of symptoms, and reviews the patient’s medical records. Based on these reviews, the doctor may order certain tests (like blood work or imaging) to be performed. The scope of such tests (which ones and how extensive) is indicated by established medical protocols and in accordance with what other reasonably prudent doctors would do in the same circumstances. If your or your loved one’s doctor failed to order tests that would have diagnosed the illness in question, but medical protocols or other reasonably prudent doctors would have ordered such tests (given the exam, your symptoms, and medical history), the doctor may be committed medical malpractice.
Appropriate Diagnose Based on Those Tests
Some doctors do order the correct tests, but make an incorrect diagnosis because they did not properly interpret the test results. A doctor may incorrectly interpret test results for many reasons, including:
- inattention (e.g., the doctor was too busy with other patients)
- lacks the specialized training to understand this type of test
- the doctor (especially emergency room doctors) was exhausted
There are many reasons why a doctor may have ordered the correct tests but not correctly interpreted them. If established medical protocols, and especially if other reasonably prudent doctors would have made a different diagnosis based on these results, then your doctor may be committed medical malpractice.
Misdiagnosis of Cancer
Failure to properly and quickly diagnose cancer is a frequent cause of litigation. Since some cancers spread quickly, a failure to properly diagnose cancer may be especially harmful to a patient. If you or a loved one find yourself in this situation, it will be important to work with an attorney to establish an earlier diagnosis would have prevented additional disease and illness.
When it comes to proper diagnosis, doctors can make two types of errors – they can fail to order the correct tests and/or they can fail to properly diagnose a condition based on those tests. If one or both of these errors occurred, then you may have a case for medical malpractice.
The law firm of Hal Waldman and Associates hopes that you and your loved ones are never the victim of medical malpractice based on the failure to diagnose a condition. We have been helping people injured by medical malpractice for more than 30 years. Call us at 866-586-8235 for a quick consultation so that we can quickly help you determine if you would benefit from legal counsel. The call is free and puts you under no obligation. We want to help you!