When a doctor fails to diagnose an illness, there’s a good chance the condition will get worse. This causes needless suffering and significant medical expenses to treat the resulting complications. In many cases, failure to diagnose a condition can be fatal or leave the patient with permanent, irreversible disabilities and health problems. You trust your doctor to diagnose your illness so you can get the treatment you need. Who can you turn to if this doesn’t happen?
Count on the medical malpractice attorneys of Cooper Schall & Levy. We help patients who have been injured because a healthcare professional failed to diagnose their condition. Find out how we can serve you today.
What Is A Failure To Diagnose?
There are several diagnostic errors that doctors and other medical professionals can make, including misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis. Failure to diagnose is a similar type of mistake and happens when the treating physician doesn’t diagnose your disease or injury at all. If you actually have a condition and see your doctor about it, but the doctor doesn’t find anything, that’s a failure to diagnose.
These errors can happen for many reasons, such as:
- Not ordering diagnostic tests
- Not ordering follow-up tests if necessary
- Incorrectly interpreting tests
- Failure to consider the patient’s self-reported symptoms
- Failure to consider the patient’s family history
- Mistaking a disease or other condition for something less serious
- Mixed up patient records and clerical mistakes
Is A Failure To Diagnose Proof Of Medical Malpractice?
While a failure to diagnose could be evidence of medical malpractice, it isn’t necessarily. Contrary to what many people believe about the legal system, a mistake alone doesn’t prove malpractice. To rise to that level, the mistake has to be unreasonable, considering circumstances like the nature of the disease and the background and experience of the medical professional. In other words, there must be evidence that the doctor or hospital provided substandard care.
More specifically, in Pennsylvania, an injured patient has to prove four specific elements of medical malpractice:
Duty. Doctors and other medical professionals have a legal obligation to treat their patients in a reasonably safe manner by avoiding negligent behavior. That means providing treatment that meets the applicable standards of medical ethics and professionalism. This element is usually not too disputed, because doctors essentially owe this duty automatically by virtue of the doctor-patient relationship.
Breach. A breach occurs when, because of some negligent act or omission, the medical professional violates the above duty of care. Some of the problems listed earlier with respect to failure to diagnose are potential examples of breaches. In medical malpractice cases, the issue of breach tends to be hotly disputed between the parties.
Causation. This element basically requires the patient to prove a causal link between the negligence (breach) and the injury that he or she suffered. It is possible that intervening events can raise doubt as to the issue of causation. For example, if you saw a second doctor for another opinion about your condition, and that doctor made some mistake, the causal link between the actions of your first doctor and your injuries will become more difficult to prove.
Damages. Finally, the patient has to show the court what sort of financial damages he or she has suffered because of the doctor’s negligence, and quantify those damages in terms of dollars. Failure to diagnose cases can cause a number of different damages, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
What Should I Do To Prove My Case?
Winning a medical malpractice case is never easy, especially with legal processes like MCARE. Doctors and hospitals are backed by powerful insurance companies and attorneys whose job it is to fight malpractice claims and protect their reputations. But there are a number of steps you can take to prepare your case.
First, get the medical attention you need once you realize your condition wasn’t properly diagnosed. This is not only critical for your health, but for minimizing the time gap between learning of the failed diagnosis and receiving the treatment you need. Remember, you don’t want any sort of intervening event to put the issue of causation in doubt. If you find out your disease was not diagnosed, but then you wait to get medical attention, the doctor or hospital could later argue that it was your delay that made your condition worse.
Next, start making notes and keeping records about everything related to the failed diagnosis. What date(s) did you see your doctor? When did you learn the doctor failed to diagnose your condition? What caused the failed diagnosis? Be sure to get copies of your medical records as well. But don’t neglect your own personal recollections, which can provide useful details about your case.
Finally, talk to a law firm with experience handling failure to diagnose medical malpractice lawsuits and navigating the legal space with MCARE. That’s where Cooper Schall & Levy comes in.
Contact Our Philadelphia Failure To Diagnose Attorney
Serious medical malpractice cases demand serious legal representation, and you can count on that from Cooper Schall & Levy. When you retain us as your law firm, we will learn the facts about what happened to you and then get to work building your case. If your doctor failed to diagnose your condition, give us a call today.
Cooper Schall & Levy medical malpractice lawyers serve Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as well as neighboring counties such as Montgomery County and Delaware County and cover neighborhoods such as Norristown and Drexel Hill.