Your health and well-being are dependent on the ability of the doctor who oversees your care. You need them to figure out the cause of your symptoms and connect you with the right treatment options. Doctors can order extra testing to determine exactly what caused your symptoms and help you resolve that underlying medical condition.
Although doctors attend years of school and pass rigorous tests to secure their medical licenses, not all of them commit the effort they should to the diagnostic process for each individual patient that they see. Some doctors jump to conclusions or ignore key information when diagnosing a patient.
The consequences of such failures by a doctor can be devastating for patients, who may get diagnosed with the wrong condition and undergo unnecessary treatment or go home without a diagnosis and face the prospect of worsening symptoms. Although many people do receive the diagnostic support they require when they seek professional medical evaluation, it is much more common than people realize for doctors to make diagnostic mistakes.
Diagnostic failure is a leading form of medical malpractice
When you look at the nationwide data related to diagnostic mistakes, it is clear that modern medicine fails many Americans. Roughly 12 million people every year experience some sort of noteworthy diagnostic error when seeking professional medical care.
Although many of those patients will go on to get the treatment they need or bounce back from undergoing the wrong care, some of them will suffer catastrophic consequences. Somewhere between 40,000 and 80,000 patients die annually in the United States as the result of a diagnostic error. Misdiagnosis and failed diagnosis are among the leading causes of medical malpractice deaths in the country.
Your rights when a doctor gets it wrong
Recovering from a diagnostic error may mean undergoing different treatment than you expected and incurring substantially more financial expense. Sometimes, patients negatively affected by a diagnostic mistake have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Families who have lost a loved one because of a diagnostic error may also have grounds for a claim against the medical professional or facility involved.
Identifying diagnostic mistakes after they occur can help families obtain justice for this common and sometimes deadly form of medical malpractice.