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Medical Diagnostic Errors are Medical Malpractice

October 22, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

When people are sick, they visit a doctor and place a lot of trust in that physician. Patients believe that the doctor will determine what sickness they are suffering from, and quickly get them on the road to recovery. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Millions of people are the victims of medical diagnostic errors every year. When they are, their condition often becomes much worse. That leads to increased medical bills, additional suffering, and perhaps even death.

Medical diagnostic errors are a form of medical malpractice, and they are extremely common. When a patient has been the victim of these errors, they need an Allentown personal injury lawyer that can help them claim compensation for their injuries.

What are Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis?

Although there are many different types of medical diagnostic errors, there are two that are more common than any other. These are misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis.

A misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor or healthcare worker simply fails to correctly identify a patient’s condition or sickness. Sometimes, these professionals don’t come to any diagnosis at all, and send the patient home where their condition worsens. In other cases, they may diagnose the patient with a condition they are not suffering from. In that case, injures can become even worse. Medications may negatively interact with the condition, while the patient still isn’t receiving the care they need for a certain sickness.

Delayed diagnosis on the other hand, occurs when a physician or other healthcare worker eventually comes to the right diagnosis, but does not do so in a timely manner. By the time the right diagnosis is reached, the patient’s health has usually deteriorated significantly.

Other Medical Diagnostic Errors

Although misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are the two most common diagnostic errors, there are others as well.

For example, a doctor may order a patient to undergo testing. When the test results come back as abnormal, the doctor may fail to correctly understand the results. Or, they may correctly interpret the results, yet fail to tell the patient about them. Additionally, a doctor could correctly diagnose a patient’s condition, yet fail to diagnose another sickness.

Proving a Medical Diagnostic Error

When doctors and other healthcare professionals make a medical diagnostic error, it’s often due to their own negligence. This means the patient can bring a medical malpractice claim against the diagnosing doctor. However, not all cases of diagnostic errors warrant a claim. The three elements of proof in medical malpractice claims include:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed between the two parties,
  • The physician was negligent, or did not use a proper standard of care when diagnosing the patient, and
  • The physician’s negligence caused the patient injury

Most medical malpractice cases hinge on the last two elements of proof. This is because not all medical diagnostic errors are the fault of the physician. If the patient did not fully inform the doctor of all their symptoms for example, the error may not be due to the doctor’s negligence. Additionally, not all diagnostic errors will result in harm to the patient.

Were You the Victim of a Diagnostic Error? Call our Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one was injured due to a diagnostic error, you need to speak to one of our Allentown personal injury attorneys. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, we know the disastrous results that can occur when a diagnostic error is made. We represent victims of negligent medical staff throughout Pennsylvania, and we’re ready to assist with your claim, too. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 for your free consultation to learn more about how we can help.



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