Not diagnosing a disease or other serious condition can have catastrophic and even deadly consequences. Patients rely on the skill and training of their doctors to properly diagnose their ailments so they can get the treatment they need. Yet doctors and other healthcare professionals sometimes fail to do this, and very often this is due to medical malpractice. Hale & Monico fights to hold medical providers liable when their failure to diagnose is the result of neglect. If you or a loved one have been injured because of malpractice, you deserve justice.
Diseases That Are Often Not Diagnosed
By some estimates, up to 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed every year. These mistakes are made not just at hospitals, but at outpatient clinics and doctors’ offices. Some of the most common diseases and conditions that are not diagnosed are:
- Cancer, such as breast, prostate, colorectal, and lung
- Heart failure and heart attacks
Consequences Of Failure To Diagnose
The effects of a failure to diagnose can hardly be understated. The patient could be facing the following:
- Delayed treatment. The disease or condition may worsen while the victim is unaware of the danger. Many diseases must be caught early if the patient is to have a chance at recovery. When precious days and weeks are lost, there’s a greater chance the patient won’t be able to get better.
- Wrong treatment. Potentially worse than a delayed treatment is a possibility that the patient will be prescribed the wrong course of treatment. Not only will this fail to adequately address the underlying issue, it could cause further complications.
- Less effective treatment. Even if the failure to diagnose is ultimately identified, it could be too late. Some medicines and prescribed treatments are only effective if administered early on, especially for cancer. The prognosis is generally bleak once the patient reaches this point.
- More treatment. If the patient’s disease or condition can be diagnosed on time, it may take significantly more medical treatment to reverse it. This means more doctor’s visits, more time out of work, more medical bills, and lost wages.
- Death. The patient may see a decline in health ultimately resulting in his or her death. The family of the deceased may then have a claim for wrongful death against the doctor or hospital responsible for the failure to diagnose.
Why Failure To Diagnose Occurs
Doctors and other medical professionals are not perfect and can make a number of mistakes that lead to a failed diagnosis. Some of the more common reasons this happens include:
- Failure to perform regular patient screenings. Some patients have to be screened regularly to monitor the progress of a prescribed course of treatment. For example, a patient’s cancer may go into remission but the doctor should still keep an eye on him or her to make sure it doesn’t return.
- Failure to order the right kind of testing. The patient may complain of a number of symptoms which would lead most doctors to order a specific test. But that doesn’t guarantee the doctor will order the right test, meaning the condition may go undetected.
- Misinterpreting test and lab results. Lab and test results are only as good as the doctor, technician, or other healthcare professional interpreting them. A misinterpretation could lead to a failed diagnosis and the loss of valuable time to treat the problem.
- Not considering the patient’s family or medical history. Your family history can indicate a likelihood that you will develop a genetic disease or condition. Similarly, your medical history provides valuable insights into possible health problems you may eventually have. Not considering these can mean a failed diagnosis.
These are some more general causes of a failed diagnosis:
- The doctor or healthcare provider has too many patients to devote adequate attention to each
- Lack of training or experience with a specific disease or condition
- Fatigue brought on by too much work and not enough rest
- Communication and clerical errors at the hospital or doctor’s office
Understanding the possible reasons why the failed diagnosis happened is a critical part of holding the medical provider liable. Medical malpractice cases are fact-specific, and the outcome will depend heavily on the individual circumstances in your case.
Proving Medical Malpractice In A Failed Diagnosis Case
As with any other malpractice case, it’s not enough to show that the doctor or other healthcare professional made a mistake. Accidents happen, and the courts do not expect medical providers to be perfect. The injured patient has to prove that the liable party committed negligence, which essentially means falling short of the required standard of care and thereby injuring the patient.
In a failed diagnosis case, the victim must specifically show that the doctor should have made the correct diagnosis under the circumstances but didn’t. This requires expert witness testimony on what reasonably prudent healthcare professionals typically do in a case like yours. You will also want to show that the outcome could have been different had the proper diagnosis been given.
Proving these elements is not easy. It requires a thorough understanding of Illinois malpractice law, and the ability to anticipate how the defendant will answer the allegations. Doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers are protective of their reputations and have aggressive lawyers to shield them. You can’t risk going it alone. You need the dedication and experience of Hale & Monico.
Contact Our Chicago Failure To Diagnose Attorney Today
A failed diagnosis can mean significant medical bills, lost wages, and permanent disabilities and other conditions that deprive the patient of their quality of life. It also means pain and suffering and the distress of knowing you missed the window for an effective treatment. Tragically, for many families, a failure to diagnose means they lose their loved ones.
Mistakes like this are not acceptable, and we’re here to make sure the responsible party is held accountable. Reach out to Hale & Monico today to get started on your case.