When it comes to some of the most recognizable forms of medical malpractice—surgical mistakes and medication errors—it’s no surprise that victims can suffer severe or life-threatening consequences. Less known are the serious complications that can arise out of cases where a patient was misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.
A new study at the Houston VA Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence analyzed health records on 190 diagnostic mistakes made at a healthcare facility from October 2006 through September 2007. These were patients going to see a primary care doctor. The conditions that were misdiagnosed ranged from cancer and heart failure to pneumonia.
Common Causes for a Misdiagnosis or a Missed Diagnosis
Not every case involving an incorrect diagnosis will result in a medical malpractice claim.
A patient would need to prove that it was caused by negligence on behalf of the healthcare provider, whether that was a:
- primary care physician;
- specialist; or
- another medical professional.
That is, the healthcare professional acted outside of the accepted standard of care. Proving this may depend on what caused the missed or wrong diagnosis. In some situations it might have been preventable.
The following are some of the possible causes of an incorrect or missed diagnosis:
- the symptoms mimic more than one type of condition;
- healthcare provider failed to get a complete history on the patient;
- the symptoms are dismissed or downplayed by doctor;
- patient visited the wrong kind of specialist;
- healthcare provider failed to follow up on medical tests;
- there was ineffective communication between healthcare provider and patient;
- the healthcare provider did not perform a full medical exam; and
- incorrect or no tests are ordered.
When there are concerns that a missed diagnosis or a wrong diagnosis that caused serious injury or the worsening of a medical condition was the result of negligence, it might necessitate the filing of a claim. An attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates might be able to help in this case.